Lax Smoking Policies may be to Blame for Higher Lung Cancer Cases in Central Southern States

First Posted: Dec 27, 2013 09:03 PM EST

A recent study shows that there is a higher mortality rate in Central Southern states that's most likely due to smoking. The Central South-composed of such states as Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee-may hold this title due to excessive smoking habits held by residents, according to lead study author Andrew Fenelon of Brown University.

Fenelon examined U.S. mortality data from vital statistics regarding the cause of death for the period  from 1965-2004. Background information from the study notes that due to research purposes, lung cancer deaths from the information were noted to be indicative of cigarette smoking. In the United States, it's estimated that more than 90 percent of lung cancer deaths are among men, while 80 percent among women are caused from smoking. However, the prevalence of smoking declined in all states following the study time period-particularly in Kentucky.

Unfortunately, study findings showed that mortality rates due to smoking peaked later than in other regions. By 2004, this mortality gap between the Central Southern states and states in other regions could be attributed to smoking, primarily diagnosed among men.

The laws and policies for many of the states in the Central Southern area unfortunately do not discourage the use of smoking of tobacco products that can create harmful health issues. For instance, there are currently 10 states with no statewide ban on smoking and nearly all of those states are in the South. This means that smoking in restaurants, work places and other public areas are all legal. To make the problem worse, state taxes on tobacco products remain low-making it easy for those addicted to continue their habit and those who are curious, to easily pick it up.

The study addresses geographic inequalities in health and mortality within the United States, and how these gaps could be narrowed with new public polices.

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More information regarding the findings can be seen via the Population and Development Review

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