A high mortality rate in Central Southern states is being blamed on smoking.  A recent Brown University study shows Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee have the highest death rates in the country.  This region has also maintained high levels of smoking, compared with a declining rate in the rest of the U.S. 

The gap in lung cancer deaths between the southern states and other regions is wide, with smoking accounting for as much as 75-percent of the difference among men. 

The laws and policies that strongly discourage smoking in most states are not as common in the Central South.  Nearly all ten states without statewide smoking bans are located in this area.  State tobacco taxes remain low in this region, unlike the steep taxes seen in states with fewer smoking-related deaths.  (Metro Networks Inc.)