Neighboring Western States Have Highest, Lowest Smoking-Attributable Mortality

July 1, 1995
Volume 9, Issue 7

New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show Utah and Nevada (so close in proximity, so distant in life-style) at the top and bottom, respectively, of a ranking of states by smoking-related mortality (see table). The

New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) show Utah and Nevada (so close in proximity, so distantin life-style) at the top and bottom, respectively, of a rankingof states by smoking-related mortality (see table). The Centerhopes that release of the statistics will spur tobacco controlefforts, including higher state excise taxes on cigarettes.

In 1990, smoking accounted for more than 400,000 deaths nationwide,say David E. Nelson, md, mph, and colleagues from the CDC's Officeon Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Preventionand Health Promotion. Yet state-specific data, which states canuse to document the magnitude of smoking-related health problems,had not been compiled since 1985.

The new report provides state-specific cigarette smoking prevalence,smoking-attributable mortality (SAM), and years of potential lifelost (YPLL) for 1990. The figures were estimated by using a specialsoftware package--Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Morbidity, andEconomic Costs (SAMMEC)--developed by the Office on Smoking andHealth.

The median SAM rate was 363.3 per 100,000 population, rangingfrom 218.0 in Utah to 478.1 in Nevada (see table). The medianpercentage of all deaths attributable to smoking was 19.2% (range,13.4% in Utah to 24.0% in Nevada).

The median estimate for YPLL was 66,959, with a range of 6,720(Alaska) to 498,297 (California). (These two states also had thefewest and most smoking-attributable deaths--402 for Alaska and42,574 for California, a function of the size of each state'spopulation.)

"SAM rates tended to be higher in the southeastern states,but all states continued to report substantial numbers of prematuredeaths caused by cigarettes use," the researchers say (MMWR43[SS-1]:1-8, 1994).

The CDC researchers call for continued progress in reducing smokingprevalence. "Although smoking prevalence has declined substantiallysince the 1960s, about 20% of deaths in the United States canbe attributed to cigarette smoking," they say.