For this month’s map series, the CED looked at the counties of California that may be most affected by Proposition 56, which went into effect on April 1, 2017. This proposition increased the tax on tobacco products from $0.87 to $2.87, and changed the tax’s revenue allocation to support existing state healthcare programs. To study the effects of smoking across California counties, we looked at each county’s overall percentage of residents who smoke, as well as each county’s mortality rate from lung cancer.
Overview and Analysis:
The counties with the highest overall percentage of residents who smoke is a tie between Alpine County and Humboldt County with 16% of the overall population smoking. The lowest percentage of smokers overall was in Santa Clara County with 8%. On average, 11.75% of Californians smoke, while just over 14 percent of residents of the the CSU Chico Service Region smoke.
The mortality rate from lung cancer was highest in Del Norte County with 59.9 deaths per 100,000 people. The lowest was found in Imperial County with 27 deaths per 100,000. Three counties did not have any available data for mortality rate due to their low populations: Sierra, Alpine and Mono. The average lung cancer mortality rate for California was 34.8 per 100,000, while the CSU Chico service region had a much higher rate of 48.1 deaths per 100,000.
Although the highest numbers for each category were not in the CSU Chico service region, the overall data for our 12-county region gives us much higher numbers than the rest of the state. Counties in our service region experience lung cancer mortality rates of almost exclusively over 45 deaths per 100,000, with 9 of the 12 counties being in this range. The overall percentage of smokers in our region is also higher than state averages, with 9 of the 12 counties reporting more that more than 13 percent of residents are regular smokers.
While Proposition 56 was not popular in the ballot box in the CSU, Chico Service Region, it seems that our region stands to be one of the most impacted by the measure. While a greater percentage of residents in our region will be impacted by the higher tobacco tax, we also contain a greater percentage of residents who may change their tobacco consumption habits in response to the price increase, or who may stand to benefit from the state’s expanded anti-smoking and healthcare efforts.