Report Finds Smoking Higher In Rural Areas

(August 15, 2012)

A new report from the American Lung Association finds smoking in San Diego County's rural areas is about 3 percent higher than in the region's cities. The report reveals there are a number of reasons why.

The American Lung Association report says smoking is more socially acceptable in rural areas. That's due in part to decades of tobacco company ads that feature rural themes, like the Marlboro Man.

The Lung Association's Debra Kelley said there are some other factors at play in San Diego County's back country.

"It tends to be easier for kids to get their hands on tobacco products. There tends to be less aggressive enforcement, and there tends to be fewer policies that protect communities from what the tobacco industry is doing," Kelley explained.

The report finds 11 percent of adults in San Diego County smoke. In contrast, the smoking rate in Imperial County is 16 percent. That's the highest rate in Southern California.

The state's highest rate is in rural Tuolumne County, where 21.9 percent of adults smoke.