Out of Breath: Georgia ranked the 11th worst state in the U.S. for lung health


The Lung Institute, a source for pulmonary information for better lung health, including disease prevention and management, commissioned a national study to establish a ranking of lung health across America, over a five-year period. This data analysis factored the following statistics from the last 5 years: the change in smoking rate in each state, as well as the change in pollution level (measured in PM2.5, which is the average daily density of fine particulate matter in micrograms per cubic meter).

This ranking determined that Virginia placed in position #1. Virginia was the state with the best lung health improvement over five years, experiencing a 5% decreased smoking rate, as well as a decreased volume of air pollution over this time (PM2.5 decreased by 5).

Georgians emerged as having among the worst lung health in America. They experienced a 1% decrease in smoking rates over 5 years, and a decline in PM2.5 (-3.2), placing in #40 position overall. On a local level, citizens of Gwinnett County have experienced the best changes in lung health over five years, and Laurens the worst. For a detailed breakdown of every county, please visit here.

On the other hand, at the opposite end of the rankings, Texas emerged in last place (#50) with the least healthy lung health trend over five years. The Lone Star State had a 1% decrease in smoking rates, and a 2.3 decrease in air pollution.

States with the healthiest lung health in the nation (based on data over the last 5 years):
1.     Virginia
2.     Colorado
3.     Tennessee
4.     Delaware
5.     Washington
States with the unhealthiest lung health in the nation (based on data over the last 5 years):
46.  Missouri
47.  Maine
48.  Oregon
49.  Oklahoma
50.  Texas

Infographic showing lung health across America

It’s no secret the severe damage that cigarette smoking causes to human health (both the tobacco user, and those around them), as well as the surrounding environment. Smoking increases the risk of developing conditions, such as lung cancer, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – not only for the tobacco user themselves, but for those around them as well. Non-smokers who are involuntarily exposed to secondhand smoke are inhaling many of the same toxins and chemicals as tobacco users directly. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can have immediate adverse effects on blood vessels, increasing the risk of having a heart attack.

Cigarettes are also the biggest contributing factor to litter on the planet, leeching more than 7,000 toxic chemicals into the environment when discarded. Tobacco smoke is also a big contributor of air pollution particles. However, when it comes to kicking the habit of smoking, it’s never too late. Quitting could add as much as a decade onto your life, compared to if you continued the smoking habit. In addition, it contributes positively to a decreased overall smoking rate, which improves the health of people, as well as the health of the surrounding environment. 

‘If you’re looking to kick the habit, it’s never too late to stop smoking cigarettes if you have a positive mindset and the correct resources,’ says Christine Kingsley for The Lung Institute. ‘There are various methods that can help you on the path to quitting and every individual is different. If you are struggling to ditch the habit, seek advice and assistance from your physician, who can provide support, as well as resources to help you along the way.’

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