Tri-State smoking rates higher than national average
By Andy Devine, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) -
New research shows some counties in the Tri-States have double the amount of smokers than other parts of the U.S.
A local doctor says it's a problem and he wants lawmakers to fix it.
Hannibal resident Heather Weis is a smoker and she's not alone in Marion County. In fact, one in five people in Marion County light up according to new research in The Institute For Health Metrics and Evaluation. Marion County has the highest smoking rate in the Tri-States.
"I do it because it relieves stress for me," Weis said. "Every time I am upset I have to have a cigarette."
"I've probably been smoking since I was fifteen, so yeah I'm addicted to them," Donald Lucas said.
"I just smoke because it helps me relieve stress," Travis Robertson said.
Dr. Humam Farah of the Hannibal Clinic says research shows smoking has declined by almost 30 percent in the last 15 years in the U.S., but rural areas are lagging behind that trend.
"There's definitely a higher number of smokers in our community," Farah said.
Farah thinks those numbers would go down if Missouri lawmakers would follow the lead of other states.
"Attorney Generals in many states recently asked big stores to ban selling cigarettes," Farah said.
He says putting higher taxes on cigarettes could also help people curb the addictive habit, but people have mixed feelings on whether that would do the trick.
"It could be because prices are a little cheaper around here," Lucas said.
"I don't think it's about cheaper cigarettes," Harris said. "It's like anything. People who smoke, smoke."
The new report says McDonough County in Illinois is at the state average of 13.7% and is the lowest in our area.
Dr. Farah says if you need help quitting, you can contact the Hannibal Clinic and the staff will show you the different options to help you quit.
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