11/19/2014 04:03 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2015

Illinois' Smoking Laws Aren't Stopping Lung Cancer as Well as They Could

Illinois has the 22nd-highest rate of lung cancer in the country, according to a new study by WalletHub. The state was also ranked as only the 14th-highest in its efforts to combat lung cancer, despite Illinois' number-one-in-the-nation strict smoking laws.

WalletHub points out that it is in the interest of every Illinoisan to decrease the prevalence of lung cancer in our population. Not only is it an individual health risk as one of the deadliest cancers in the U.S. every year (it is more common than colon, breast and pancreatic cancer combined and has a survival rate of about 17 percent), it is also extremely monetarily expensive at a societal level (and second-hand smoke is a public health risk).

From WalletHub:

According to the most recent National Institutes of Health estimates, the disease accounted for $12.1 billion of total cancer care costs in 2010. Five years earlier, premature deaths from lung cancer among adults aged 20 and older resulted in $36.1 billion in lost productivity.

And, one person's smoking habit could cost them up to almost $60,000 on cigarettes over 10 years.

The study ranked several metrics to find which states were doing the most to combat lung cancer.

Hawaii is doing the most to combat lung cancer out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, says WalletHub, while Missouri comes in 51st place.

In every metric, WalletHub rated Illinois as above average in its efforts to fight lung cancer. Beyond enacting far-reaching smoking bans, the state is also doing well on offering free services to help smokers quit and high-rated cancer hospitals.

From WalletHub's Communications Manager Raz Daraban:

Combating Lung Cancer in Illinois (1=Best; 25=Avg.)

  • 15th - Number of Adult Tobacco Users per Capita
  • 16th - Cigarette Taxes
  • 22nd - Death Rate from Lung Cancer
  • 14th - % of Smokers Who Attempted to Quit
  • 24th - Estimate of New Lung Cancer Cases per Capita
  • 2nd - Number of Available Cost-Free Services to Quit Tobacco Use
  • 6th - "Top-Rated Hospitals for Cancer" Score
  • 1st - Smoking Ban
  • 16th - Price of a Cigarette Pack

Utah ranked as the best state for fewest number of new lung cancer cases, lung cancer death rates and the number of adult tobacco users per capita. Alaska, New York, Colorado, California and the District of Columbia also did well.

Jon T. Macy, from the University of Indiana's School of Public Health, told WalletHub that strict smoking rules, high cigarette taxes and offering public treatment options can help reduce the number of smokers in a state, especially among young people. Illinois has already implemented all three of these measures.

Illinois' smoking laws are governed by (410 ILCS 82/) Smoke Free Illinois Act.

Since Jan. 1, 2008, the following areas in Illinois have been smoke-free by law, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health: Bars, taverns, nightclubs, cocktail lounges, adult entertainment facilities and cabarets, and restaurants, including coffee shops, cafeterias, sandwich stands, and private and public school cafeterias. That ban has the highest threshold of any state anti-smoking act in the country.

The IDPH outlines these penalties for breaking the smoking ban laws:

A person who smokes in an area where smoking is prohibited can fined between $100 and $250. A person who owns, operates or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment who violates the act can be fined not less than $250 for the first violation, not less than $500 for the second violation within one year after the first violation and not less than $2,500 for each additional violation within one year after the first violation.

According to the Illinois Department of Revenue, the state's cigarette tax is $1.98 for every package of 20 cigarettes. Individuals must also pay a separate sales tax on cigarette packs and cigarette distributors and cigarette machine operators are subjected to taxes.

Illinois also offers a free quit-smoking hotline, called the Illinois Tobacco Quitline, which can be reached at 1-866-QUIT-YES. The website also offers online chat help.

Check out Reboot Illinois for an interactive map that ranks every state's efforts to quell lung cancer diagnoses.

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