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Iowa’s Smoking Rate Now Third Lowest in the Nation

January 5, 2009

Des Moines, IA – In the past two years, Iowa's smoking rate has dropped 22 percent. That means 79,000 more Iowans are now former smokers.

Almost no other state has seen that steep a decline, and Peggy Huppert with the Iowa Chapter of the American Cancer Society says it's no accident: During that time period, the state increased its cigarette tax and banned smoking in most public places.

Huppert says a closer look at the numbers shows that one group had a particularly large percentage of "quitters," for which she credits the $1-per-pack tax hike.

"An increase in the tax particular impacts young smokers, and that's really good. That's a group we were hoping would quit because of the increase in the tax."

Iowa's smoking rate is now down to 14 percent, the third lowest in the United States. In Huppert's opinion, the state's next goal should be to jump ahead of Utah, which boasts the lowest smoking rate in the country.

"We still have room to go in Iowa. We can get down to 10 percent; it's 11 percent in Utah."

Huppert says now, when many Iowans are making New Year's resolutions, their pledges to give up tobacco are some of the most important. To help them succeed, the Iowa Department of Public Health is offering a free one-month supply of nicotine patches through its 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline. Other free services are available online at www.cancer.org.

Dick Layman/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - IA