By Paul Tooher
Smokers across Illinois are kicking the habit at one of the fastest rates in the nation, according to the results of a new poll released by Gallup.
According to Gallup, the number of smokers in the state declined from 22.5 percent in 2008 to 18.1 percent in 2013, a 4.4 percent decrease. That’s the fourth-fastest drop in the number of smokers in the nation.
Alaska saw the percentage of smokers drop by 6.5 percent during the same period, followed by Rhode Island, with a 5.6 percent drop, and North Dakota, where the number of smokers also dropped by 5.6 percent.
According to Gallup, 19.7 percent of Americans were smokers in 2013, down from 21.1 percent in 2008.
Utah had the lowest smoking rate in the nation, at 12.2 percent, followed by California, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island, Colorado and Arizona.
Kentucky has the highest percentage of smokers, at 30.2 percent, followed by West Virginia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee and Michigan.
Illinois enacted The Smoke-free Illinois Act in 2008 that prohibits smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces, including offices, theaters, museums, libraries, educational institutions, schools, commercial establishments, enclosed shopping centers and retail stores, restaurants, bars, private clubs and gaming facilities.
And starting this month, smoking has been banned in apartments operated by the DeKalb Housing Authority.
Of course, not everyone is ready to kick the habit.
According to Men’s Health, St. Louis is the smokiest city in America, followed by Jacksonville, Fla., Kansas City, Charleston, W.V., Winston-Salem, N.C., Oklahoma City, Louisville, Ky., Lexington, Ky., Tulsa, Okla., and Philadelphia.
At the other end of the scale, Salt Lake City was judged to be the most smoke-free city in the nation, followed by Newark, N.J., Honolulu, San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, Calif., Jersey City, N.J., and New York City.