Big American tobacco wants to get bigger in America. This week, Reynolds American, which sells both Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes, agreed to acquire rival and Newport menthol-maker Lorillard for an estimated $27.4 billion. If approved, the deal will effectively combine the portfolios of two of the country's largest cigarette companies.
The deal is also a surprising indication of optimism surrounding the U.S. industry. Americans adults, on average, smoke fewer than 1,300 cigarettes per year, according to a report released earlier this year by the Surgeon General. By comparison, that number was upwards of 4,200 in 1963 — three times the current figure.
But some states and demographics still seem to be clinging on to the habit — and keeping American tobacco companies afloat.
More than 28% of Kentucky's and West Virginia's adult population were regular or frequent smokers as of 2012. In Utah, smokers made up barely more than 10% of the population; in California, just over 12%. The national smoking rate was just above 18%.
Smoking appears to be highly correlated with both poverty and education levels in the United States: 27.9% of American adults living below the poverty line are smokers, while just 17% of those living above it are, according to the CDC; 24.7% of American adults without a high school diploma are smokers, while only 9.1% of those with an undergraduate degree are.
Cigarettes are most popular among adults between the ages of 25 and 44 years old: 21.6% of the age group smokes, more than any other.