Josephine County Has the Highest Smoking Rate in Oregon

Cigarette sales climbed in the U.S. in 2020 for the first time in two decades. Americans bought a total of 203.7 billion cigarettes last year, up from 202.9 billion the year before, according to a Federal Trade Commision report. The uptick coincided with increased cigarette promotional and ad spending by tobacco companies.

Smoking claims nearly half a million American lives annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 16 million Americans are living with a serious illness caused by smoking. Tobacco use also has an economic impact, including more than $225 billion spent each year on medical expenses to treat the smoking-related illness in the U.S. and over $156 billion in lost productivity.

Josephine County, home to the city of Grants Pass, has the highest smoking rate of any county or county equivalent in Oregon. An estimated 22.9% of the 18 and older population are smokers -- meaning they smoke every day or most days and have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. The smoking rate across the state as a whole stands at 15.7%.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and places where large shares of the population are smokers often have lower than average life expectancy at birth. Josephine County is no exception. Life expectancy at birth in the county is an estimated 76.6 years, below the comparable 79.9 years across all of Oregon.

All data on smoking rates, life expectancy, and self reported health status used in this story are from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program's 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report. Only counties and county equivalents with a 2019 five-year population estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau of 1,000 or more were considered.

County with highest smoking rate by stateAdult smoking rate, county (%)Adult smoking rate, state (%)Life expectancy at birth, county (yrs.)Life expectancy at birth, state (yrs.)Adults in fair or poor health, county (%)Adults in fair or poor health, state (%)AK: Kusilvak Census Area44.618.567.279.041.915.6AL: Perry County27.320.072.375.634.621.4AR: Lee County28.923.774.676.133.623.3AZ: Apache County25.014.573.180.031.218.6CA: Del Norte County19.211.576.581.722.617.6CO: Crowley County23.714.779.280.623.813.8CT: Windham County16.412.578.580.915.513.0DE: Kent County19.717.477.878.521.016.3FL: Dixie County30.914.975.480.227.419.5GA: Clinch County28.016.372.677.930.918.4HI: Hawaii County18.714.480.682.317.115.4IA: Wayne County23.217.478.379.417.713.5ID: Shoshone County22.915.075.579.421.515.1IL: Alexander County27.015.973.579.426.015.9IN: LaGrange County29.221.778.977.123.118.2KS: Woodson County25.017.979.178.521.116.3KY: Clay County33.624.171.775.635.721.8LA: East Carroll Parish34.321.172.176.140.521.4MA: Bristol County19.513.778.780.616.113.5MD: Somerset County21.812.675.579.223.815.2ME: Somerset County25.819.476.578.720.017.1MI: Lake County29.120.176.978.125.718.3MN: Mahnomen County30.015.570.180.924.312.9MO: Wayne County30.720.174.977.326.919.5MS: Issaquena County31.121.0N/A74.937.422.1MT: Glacier County33.618.970.978.927.214.1NC: Robeson County30.017.972.878.131.218.0ND: Sioux County36.219.768.579.733.913.6NE: Thurston County27.116.669.579.623.513.8NH: Coos County19.816.677.379.718.512.8NJ: Cumberland County22.613.275.380.525.215.5NM: McKinley County27.615.971.978.031.320.3NV: Mineral County24.115.773.478.724.419.1NY: Herkimer County24.913.079.481.416.816.3OH: Vinton County31.321.474.577.024.217.8OK: Adair County32.119.973.276.133.420.9OR: Josephine County22.915.776.679.921.918.2PA: Forest County25.717.978.878.523.517.6RI: Kent County18.515.279.279.815.416.5SC: Dillon County26.718.772.977.129.917.8SD: Oglala Lakota County40.920.264.478.934.913.4TN: Lake County30.920.872.476.030.421.2TX: Hall County23.814.277.579.231.218.7UT: San Juan County18.89.176.480.125.414.8VA: Buchanan County29.115.174.079.628.016.6VT: Orleans County21.214.778.679.815.912.8WA: Ferry County21.712.177.780.422.315.0WI: Menominee County33.617.271.679.528.714.8WV: McDowell County34.726.969.074.836.523.6WY: Niobrara County22.819.280.278.919.515.3

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