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S.D. makes strides toward kicking smoking habit

Publication Date: 2011-08-11
  • Author:Sarah Reinecke

South Dakota's adult smoking rate plunged to 15.4 percent last year, according to a July health and infectious disease summary from Pierre, but other statistics indicate that smoking rates among the state's high school students and pregnant women are among the highest in the nation.

South Dakota officials attribute the substantial decrease in adult smokers since 2003 - when the rate was 22.7 percent - to a combination of factors, including the success of the South Dakota QuitLine, increased tobacco taxes, smoking bans and continued funding for tobacco-free programs, prevention and education opportunities.

"We've far exceeded what we thought was possible, what I thought was impossible just back 10 years ago," state epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger said. "I'm actually surprised and shocked ... I said we'd never do it ... I eat my shoe."

South Dakota now is the 13th best-ranked state in the nation, according to the report. Kightlinger said the goal for last year was for the adult smoking rate to drop to 18 percent. During the same time period, the U.S. rate fell from 22 percent to 17.3 percent...

Ban's effect

Ahrendt expects to see continued declines in the next few years in adult smoking because of the statewide smoking ban that went into effect in November and is not reflected in the most recent statistics.

"When it becomes more difficult to smoke, it causes people to think about whether they might want to try to quit," she said.

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