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Smoking-Mortality Rate High in Central Southern States

Update Date: Dec 27, 2013 11:35 AM EST

In a new study, researchers analyzed the mortality rates throughout the United States from 1965 to 2004. They found that the regions with the highest mortality rates have shifted throughout the years. This shift, according to researcher Andrew Fenelon from Brown University, could be due to smoking behaviors.

According to the researchers, in 1965, the states that had the highest death rates were Rhode Island, Alaska, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. In 2004, the researchers found that the states with the highest mortality rates shifted toward central, southern states. These states were Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. The researchers believed that the mortality rates were particularly centered in this region of the country because of smoking habits.

The team analyzed the death statistics from 1965 to 2004 using U.S. mortality data. The researchers tied lung cancer deaths to cigarette smoking. They found that 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women could be tied to smoking. The researchers noted that throughout time, the prevalence of smoking has declined. However, the smoking rate is relatively higher in southern states. The researchers found that by 2004, 75 percent of the difference in mortality rates between the central south and other U.S. regions could be attributed to smoking.

Within the U.S., there are 10 states that do not enforce a statewide ban on smoking. This means that people can still smoke in public places, such as restaurants or workplaces. The study's findings suggest that more anti-smoking campaigns need to be created for certain regions of the country in order to address geographic inequalities.

The study was published in Population and Development Review.

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