CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A new study has found that West Virginia has the highest smoking rate in the nation.
According to the Global Smoking Report released by NiceRx, 22.3% of the world’s population smokes tobacco. One reason people say they smoke is to reduce stress, however, that stress reliever comes with the risk of a nicotine addiction.
For the study, the size of the state or country’s populations also factored into how percentages and rankings were calculated.
According to the study, West Virginia had the highest smoking rate in the U.S. in 2022, with a rate of 23.8% of the state’s population smoking tobacco. With a population of approximately 1.79 million people, this means more than 426,000 West Virginians smoke.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says that number includes high schoolers. The campaign released data that approximately 7.6% of high school students, or around 16,500 students, in the state smoke. The campaign’s data also states nearly 3,400 kids under the age of 18 try cigarettes for the first time each year.
The Global Smoking Report from NiceRx also found that the Mountain State has the highest rate of smoking-related deaths each year. According to the study, West Virginia’s annual smoking-related death rate is 241 deaths per 100,000 people. This means that each year, just under 4,300 people in West Virginia die every year from complications related to smoking.
Kentucky came in at second for both smoking rates and smoking-related death rates with a 23.6% smoking rate, and a smoking death rate of 197 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Global Smoking Report. Despite having a population of 4.65 million, more than 2.5 times that of West Virginia, the Bluegrass State ranks at a very close second. This means just under 1.1 million people in Kentucky smoke tobacco.
The report says the three states rounding out the top five highest smoking rates are Louisiana in third at 21.9%, Ohio in fourth at 20.8%, and Mississippi in fifth at 20.4%.
Rounding out the five states with the most smoking related deaths are Arkansas in third at 192 deaths per 100,000 people, Oklahoma in fourth with 188 deaths per 100,000 people, and Mississippi in fifth with 183 deaths per 100,000 people.
Outside of the States, the report found the top five countries with the highest smoking rates are Nauru with a 52.1% smoking rate, Kiribati with a 52% rate, Tuvalu with a 48.7% rate, Myanmar with a 45.5% rate, and Chile with a 44.7% rate.
The United States did not make the top 50 of countries with the highest smoking rates, however, the US did rank 31st, tied with Japan, on the report’s list of countries with the highest number of smoking deaths in 2019 with a rate of 159 deaths per 100,000 people.
For West Virginians, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources does have a helpline for residents who want to quit smoking. If you or someone you know needs help trying to quit smoking, contact the West Virginia Tobacco QuitLine here or by calling 1-877-QUIT-NOW (1-877-966-8784).