Tobacco use stays high in rural areas

(August 15, 2012)

Rural counties like Yuba and Sutter are more likely to have high rates of tobacco use and low rates of policies to address it, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association.

Citing a number of reasons, including culture and economics, the report found rural residents are more likely to use tobacco products, to start using them at a younger age, use them more heavily and are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke than those living in suburban or urban areas.

In a Lung Association report released earlier this year, Yuba and Sutter counties received grades of F.

California cities and counties were rated in three areas:

• Smoke-free outdoor air.

• Smoke-free housing.

• Reducing sales of tobacco products.


The region's poor scores were not uncommon for rural areas in California; the report noted 102 out of 121 rural communities received F grades, perhaps in part because smoking is seen as more socially acceptable in such areas, the report states.

Local officials have said they're aware of such findings and working on reducing them, adding high rates of smoking often contribute to poor health among the counties' populations as a whole.

But with limited resources, those officials have also said, it's difficult to both adopt and then enforce ordinances restricting outdoor smoking, for example.

"State and local governments serving large segments of the rural population have been less likely to enact the kinds of policies that have reduced tobacco use elsewhere, such as increasing excise taxes and eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke in workplaces and other public venues," the report, "Cutting Tobacco's Rural Roots: Tobacco Use in Rural Communities," stated.