According to the report, Kentucky retook the top spot from West Virginia in 2015 with an adult smoking rate of 25.9 percent; West Virginia’s is 25.7 percent, followed closely by Arkansas at 24.9 percent.
Smoking rates have declined across the nation almost 28 percent since 2005, from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 15.1 percent in 2015, according to the report, which is based on the 2015 National Health Interview Survey. Kentucky’s smoking rates declined 10 percent in the same time frame, from 28.7 percent to 25.9 percent, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a constant national poll conducted by the CDC.
“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S., accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or one of every five deaths,” says the CDC.
The state’s high smoking rate also comes with a hefty price tag, as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates Kentucky’s smoking-related health costs at $1.92 billion a year. The group ranks Kentucky 37th in protecting children from tobacco, and says 17 percent of its high school students smoke.