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L.A. County: Where the smokers are [Updated]

June 22, 2010 |  3:00 pm

When it comes to smoking in Los Angeles County, a new public health report released Tuesday found deep disparities depending on education, affluence, race and gender.

Nearly a quarter of adults in Quartz Hill -- 21.9% -- are smokers, followed closely by its Antelope Valley neighbor, Lancaster, where 21.7% of adults smoke, according to the report.

The report, the first neighborhood-level analysis of smoking by county health officials, also found higher levels of smokers in West Hollywood, South Los Angeles and parts of the South Bay.

Males in L.A. County were almost twice as likely as females to smoke, 19% to 10%. The study's authors also found distinct racial disparities; 25% of blacks L.A. County are smokers, compared to 15% of whites, 12% of Latinos and 11% of Asian Pacific Islanders.

Affluent communities were more likely to have fewer smokers. Overall, residents who have college degrees and higher incomes were less likely to smoke.

Joining Quartz Hill and Lancaster with high rates of adult smoking were: West Hollywood, 19.6%; Lake Los Angeles, 19%; the South L.A. council district represented by Bernard Parks, 19%; Palmdale, 18.5%; Hermosa Beach, 17.4%; and Redondo Beach, 16%.

The cities with the lowest adult smoking rates: San Marino, 5.3%; Malibu, 5.8%; La Cañada Flintridge, 6.4%; Calabasas, 7.3%; Palos Verdes Estates, 7.4%; Agoura Hills, 7.7%; Westlake Village, 7.9%; and Walnut, 8.8%.

[Updated at 6:50 p.m.: Overall, about 14% of Los Angeles County residents are smokers -- well below the national rate. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20.6% of Americans smoke.

Nationwide, metropolitan areas with the highest rate of smokers are in the South, Appalachia, Montana and Wyoming, according to the CDC. Those with the lowest rates are in California, Florida, Utah and suburban Connecticut and Maryland. 

The Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orange County metro areas have among the lowest percentage of smokers in the nation. Health officials credit anti-smoking measures, including California’s ban on smoking in workplaces and restaurants that passed in 1995, among other efforts.]

Health officials urged local lawmakers to continue efforts to “create social norms that make smoking even less desirable.”

Such measures include restricting smoking in common areas in apartments and condos, such as in patios, balconies, hallways, laundry rooms and swimming pools, and banning smoking in outdoor dining areas, parks, farmer’s markets, bus stops and ATM lines.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II reporting from the L.A. County Hall of Administration

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