Biggest opportunity for Great American Smokeout 2009 is in West Virginia, where 1 in 4 residents smokes.
Those promoting Thursday's Great American Smokeout 2009 have their work cut out for them. That's because cigarette use among Americans, after declining for decades, has remained virtually unchanged for five straight years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That's about 46 million smokers in the US – or 20.6 percent of the adult population. Every day, 1,000 young people become new smokers, the CDC says. (The level in 2004 was 20.9 percent, dipping to 19.7 in 2007.)
"At the national level, we're kind of stuck," Matthew McKenna, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, told WebMD. "Now we're back to where we had been. Too many bars, restaurants, and construction sites are still exempted from smoke-free laws."
Seventeen states ban smoking in bars, restaurants, and workplaces. Fourteen other states prohibit smoking in one or two of those three categories, The New York Times has reported.
But cigarette use varies state to state. Utah has the smallest share of smokers, with 9 percent of its adult population reporting cigarette use. West Virginia has the highest percentage – nearly 27 percent are smokers. It's followed closely by Indiana, at 26.5 percent, and Kentucky and Missouri at 25 percent.