United Health Foundation’s Annual… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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United Health Foundation’s Annual Health Rankings Confirm Correlation between Smoking and Overall Po

December 10, 2015

The United Health Foundation released its 2015 “America's Health Rankings® Annual Report,” providing a comprehensive state-by-state assessment of the nation’s health. Not surprisingly, the report shows that the 10 least healthy states have some of the nation’s highest smoking rates.

Analyzing a comprehensive set of “behaviors, community and environmental conditions, policies, and clinical care data,” the report provides a complete view of the nation’s and states’ health. The 2015 Report highlights promising progress, notably the overall continuing reduction of smoking (rates down 5 percent over the past year from 19.0 percent to 18.1 percent of adults), while also pointing out that 1 in 6 adults still smoke.

The findings show the continuing disparity among states and regions, with southern states dominating the ongoing challenges.

  • West Virginia, with the highest smoking rate among the states at 26.7 percent, ranks 47th in overall health.
  • Louisiana ranks as the least healthy state and has the 5th highest smoking rate (24.0 percent).
  • All 10 of the least healthy states (nine from the South) rank among the 11 states with the highest smoking rates.

The America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report aims to stimulate action by policymakers and elected officials, health care professionals, public health professionals, employers, educators, communities and individuals to improve the overall health of the U.S. population.

The United Health Foundation joined with the American Public Health Association to present this 26th edition of the health rankings annual report. State and local public health leaders across the country use the annual report to inform state health priorities and help transform health systems for the better.

We urge state and local public health leaders and policymakers to use these latest rankings to inform tobacco control policies and close the progress gaps in states with high smoking rates. Tobacco use remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. But proven policies to reduce tobacco use – including proper funding of tobacco control and cessation programs, higher tobacco taxes and comprehensive smoke-free laws – can get us closer toward ending the tobacco epidemic for good.