With No Tobacco Day coming up May 31, BetArkansas took a break from coverage of Arkansas sportsbook promos to look at smoking in the state.
And Arkansas has a long road ahead if it wants to cut down on the number of cigarette smokers, deaths and smoking-related costs for its residents.
Arkansas received $281.2 million in revenue from tobacco settlement payments in fiscal year 2021, and in 2020 it allocated $10.8 million in state funds for tobacco prevention.
But that money and education hasn’t helped Arkansans quit smoking as data shows Arkansas ranks second nationally in percentage of smokers.
Using data from the CDC’s 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (CDC - 2021 BRFSS Survey Data and Documentation) BetArkansas.com — your home for all things Arkansas sports betting — ranked the states based on the percentage of adults who reported “smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke daily or some days.”
State-By-State Breakdown of Adult Smokers
Cigarette Tax Below National Average
Data shows 21.1% of those surveyed in Arkansas currently smoke daily or some days. The state ranks low at 36th when it comes to taxing cigarettes at $1.15 per pack when the national average is $1.91.
In September 2022, a 5Newsonline.com story said Arkansas ranked third nationally with 192 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 people. Only West Virginia (241 per 100,000) and Kentucky (197 per 100,000) ranked higher than Arkansas.
The entire state helps bear the cost of those smoking, as tobaccofreekids.com says the annual healthcare costs in Arkansas for smoking are $1.41 billion, with Medicaid costs reaching $315 million and putting a state and federal tax burden of $1,225 per household for smoking-caused government expenditures.
According to truthinitiative.org, there are seven recommended quitting medications such as NRT gum, NRT patch, Chantix, etc. However, Arkansas doesn’t have a private insurance mandate provision for quitting smoking, according to the American Lung Association.
Douglas Pils has been a sports journalist for 30 years in Texas, Arkansas and New York having worked for the San Antonio Express-News, the Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News and Newsday. He most recently ran the Student Media Department at Texas A&M for eight years.