Although smoking rates continue to decline, it is still one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the United States. Researchers looked at the burden of cigarette use across all U.S. states and found that the proportion of cancer deaths from smoking was highest in several Southern states, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Their findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The researchers analyzed public data for 12 smoking-related cancers: oropharyngeal; laryngeal; tracheal, lung, and bronchial; esophageal; stomach; colorectal; liver; pancreatic; cervical; kidney and renal pelvic; urinary bladder; and acute myeloid leukemia. They found that 167,133 cancer deaths in 2014 were attributed to smoking, but the rates were higher in certain states.

Nine of the top 10 states for men and 6 of the top 10 states for women were in the South. In contrast, Utah had the lowest rate of cancer deaths from smoking for both men and women.

The researchers noted that despite the variation across states, the human cost of cigarette smoking is high no matter the location. They advocated for increasing tobacco control funding, implementing innovative cessation strategies, and strengthening tobacco control policies across all states to help further reduce the burden of smoking-related cancers.