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Los Angeles County has one of the nation's lowest rates of smoking. But after years of sharp decline, the rate has remained static for the past eight years, according to a new study by the county's health department.

L.A. County's 10-plus million residents are more than a quarter of the state's population and the new study says 14 percent of its non-children - more than a million persons - are smoking, including 12 percent of teenagers.

The county's smoking rate is virtually identical to California's statewide rate, which is the second lowest of any state. Utah is by far the lowest at less than 10 percent, while Kentucky, a tobacco-growing state, is highest at 28-plus percent. California has spent tens of millions of dollars, much of it raised from cigarette taxes, to persuade Californians to quit smoking.

The Los Angeles study found wide disparities in smoking rates among the county's geographic areas and ethnic groups.

Wealthy, mostly white and Asian-American San Marino had the county's lowest rate of smoking, 5.3 percent, while in Quartz Hill, due north of San Marino on the other side of the San Gabriel Mountains, it was 21.9 percent.

L.A.'s men are more likely to smoke (19 percent) than women (10 percent) and black Angelenos, at 25 percent, are heavier smokers than whites (15 percent), Latinos (12 percent) or Asian Americans (11 percent).

"Targeted efforts are needed to further reduce cigarette smoking, especially among high-risk groups," the county's public health director, Dr. Jonathon Fielding, said in a cover letter.

The full report is available here.



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