Here’s an honor we surely can’t be proud of.

U.S. News and World Report recently reported the “Smokiest Places to Live” and Kingsport (and Bristol) ranks second in the nation!

Evidently, on the heels of the recent decision by The Supreme Court that states even “lit” cigarettes pose severe health risks and that smokers can sue tobacco companies for advertising otherwise, U.S. News has prepared their list of cities as a helpful guide for non-smokers.

Guess you might say we’re attractive to smokers moving to a new city now. There’s your spin – 🙂

Now I’m not sure how they put the list together – although the numbers were compiled by the CDC, but here’s the top ten.

Smokiest Metro Areas Smoking Rate*
1. Huntington, W.Va. 34.4 percent
2. Kingsport-Bristol, Tenn. 30.5 percent
3. Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss. 28.8 percent
4. Greensboro, N.C. 28.3 percent
5. Mobile, Ala. 26.9 percent
6. Casper, Wyo. 26.8 percent
7. Chattanooga, Tenn. 26.5 percent
7. Wilmington, N.C. 26.5 percent
9. Tulsa, Okla. 26.0 percent
10. Hickory, N.C. 25.9 percent

This isn’t “good news” for the City of Kingsport and it’s highly unlikely we’ll see this in the headlines either.

Tennessee had two cities on the list and 30.5% of the population is actually less than what I imagined because I still have plenty of friends who smoke.

I’m a former smoker, but now they make me ill. Somewhere along the way, cigarettes started to give me a headache almost immediately after I lit one up. Even today, as a working musician, a night in a smoking bar leaves my sinuses shut and a throbbing headache is always in the background.

I remember when I started working for the newspaper in 1984 – everyone smoked. Of all places to light up a cigarette, the newspaper had ash trays in every room and for the longest time our walls were yellow with the stain of second-hand smoke. It’s a miracle we never had a fire.I’m sure you can remember those days too.

It wasn’t that long ago that restaurants gave you a choice of smoking or non-smoking, much like paper or plastic. Nowadays, you see smokers treated like “second-class citizens” flocking together outside in designated smoking areas – in any weather condition. Most contend they get a lot of work done while they smoke. Reminds me of another famous qoute about smoking – “They make you stink and they make you think.”

The New Year is one of my favorite times of the year and although “Stop Smoking” is no longer on my list, it’s certainly a hope to any and all who savor life. Besides, now you can consider it a favor to the city.

For what it’s worth, one of the most influential things (besides the headaches) that led to my ability to quit was a newspaper ad. This full page had several pictures of animals with cigarettes in their mouths. The caption at the bottom simply read – “People Look Stupid Too.”