Friday, November 03, 2000

Nevada out-puffing Kentucky


Smoking rate ranking changes

By Russ Bynum
The Associated Press

        ATLANTA — Nevada, home to Sin City and its 24-hour, smoke-friendly bars and casinos, has knocked Kentucky out of the top spot on the government's list of states with the highest smoking rates.

        Nearly a third of Nevada residents smoke, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

        The numbers didn't surprise Daniele Dreitzer of the American Cancer Society's office in Las Vegas, where smoking is allowed almost anywhere there's gambling. Even in grocery stores, customers light up while they play the slots.

        “We jokingly say Nevada's the smoking section for California,” Ms. Dreitzer said.

        The CDC put Nevada's smoking rate at 31.5 percent. Kentucky, a major tobacco producer that had topped the list since 1995, was second at 29.7 percent.

        Ohio's smoking rate was 27.6 percent and Indiana's, 27 percent.

        The lowest rate was 13.9 percent in Utah, where the Mormon Church's opposition to smoking has been credited with keeping rates low.

        Dr. Linda Pederson, a CDC epidemiologist, downplayed Nevada's overtaking Kentucky, noting that the survey's error margin of 3 percentage points was greater than the difference between the states.

        The CDC has estimated that roughly 25 percent of American adults smoke — a rate that held steady throughout the 1990s.

        “We can learn from the states where the smoking levels are lower,” Ms. Pederson said. “We can look at what they've done and apply that to states where the levels are higher.”

        Kentucky launched its first statewide anti-smoking campaign this year with $5.5 million from its share of the national tobacco settlement.

        In Nevada, where cities and counties are barred from imposing smoking restrictions beyond those in state law, activists are encouraging restaurant owners to ban smoking voluntarily. And smoke-free tables have cropped up at some casinos.

       



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