2013-01-31 / News

R.I. has third lowest youth-smoking rate in nation

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Rhode Island as the 19th lowest smoking state in the country. The report says that 20 percent of Rhode Island adults smoke cigarettes. Also, the CDC says that the Ocean State has the third-lowest percent of youth smokers in the nation. At 11.4 percent, Rhode Island’s youth-smoking rate is well below the national average of 18 percent.

The report is particularly significant because it highlights important associations between smoking rates and legislative tobacco control activities. Eight states raised their cigarette excise taxes a total of nine times since the last report was issued in April 2010. Five states have passed comprehensive smoke-free laws since then.

“It’s no coincidence that Rhode Island has the third-lowest youth smoking rate and the secondhighest cigarette excise tax in the nation,” said Dr. Michael Fine, director of the state Department of Health. “Raising the tax rate is a proven best strategy for keeping cigarettes out of the hands of young people. We need to remain vigilant in order to continue this positive trend.”

Although many states have taken steps to reduce smoking rates, the report reveals a significant slowdown in legislative tobacco control that took place earlier in the decade. In Rhode Island, the adult smoking rate has seen a dramatic reduction from 23 percent in 2001 to 16 percent in 2010, but has remained stagnant in the last few years.

“The fact that we rank 19th in adult smoking shows that much work still needs to be done,” said Fine.

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