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June 19, 2018
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Fewer Americans are smoking than ever before, Time reported Tuesday. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics put the number of adult smokers in the year 2017 at about 14 percent of the population, over 30 million people nationwide. The figure was around 16 percent in 2016, and 20 percent back in 2007.

This trend points to "a general decline" in the smoking population, NBC News reported. "Everything is pointed in the right direction," said Dr. K. Michael Cummings, an addiction researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina, who also noted that sales of cigarettes have fallen in recent years.

But additional data shows that electronic cigarettes may account for some of the declining figures, Time explained. Recent data shows that about 3 percent of U.S. adults used e-cigarettes in 2016. Although e-cigarettes don't contain the same harmful byproducts as cigarettes, the long-term effects of vaping aren't well-known.

Read more about the CDC data at Time. Shivani Ishwar

March 26, 2018
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New data published Monday found major geographic disparities in community health, across 10 health-related categories like food and nutrition, environment, equity, and public safety. County rankings, compiled by U.S. News & World Report, compared nearly 3,000 counties to determine how community health is affected by factors like housing and the local economy.

"Population health" was an important component in the rankings, factoring in access to health care and prevalence of health conditions. Counties in Minnesota, California, Iowa, and Colorado were top-ranked in population health, while counties in Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida were lowest.

Meanwhile, many counties near Silicon Valley ranked poorly in equity, defined as income and social equality across demographic groups. Colorado dominated the top of the environmental rankings, while New York and California counties scored poorly in housing availability. Counties in Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Massachusetts were ranked highest overall.

The scores, between 0 and 100, showed that community health varies greatly based on location. But across the board, Americans are worried about access to health care. A Gallup poll published Monday shows that the availability and affordability of health care troubles 55 percent of Americans "a great deal," while 23 percent of those polled say it worries them "a fair amount." Only 23 percent say the issue concerns them "only a little" or "not at all." Other issues of concern to the Americans polled included "crime and violence" and "the economy," but Gallup reports that this is the fifth year in a row that health care has been the number one concern.

See the full rankings at U.S. News & World Report. Summer Meza