Report: Smoking, drinking more common in Alaska

Juneau is the healthiest city in state followed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough

ANCHORAGE — A study of the nation’s health finds that more people smoke, drink excessively and die young in Alaska than in the rest of America.

For example, the percentage of people who smoke is estimated at 15 percent nationally, but 19 percent in Anchorage. And, while 8 percent of Americans reported excessive drinking, it’s 19 percent in Alaska.

Figures from the County Health Rankings report released Tuesday were reported by the Anchorage Daily News. The health study is a project of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The study says Alaska’s premature death rate is higher than the national benchmark. Nationally, the years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 residents is 5,564. In Alaska it’s 7,649.

Juneau is the healthiest Alaska city, with a rate of 6,119, followed by 6,195 for the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 6,606 for Kodiak and 7,074 for Anchorage. The rate is slightly higher than the state average for the Kenai Peninsula, 7,742, and the Matanuska Susitna Borough, 7,768.

The highest mortality rate is for the Wade Hampton census district at the mouth of the Yukon River, at 15,222 years per 100,000 residents.

Sexually transmitted chlamydia infections run 83 per 100,000 people nationally, but the rate jumps to 711 in Alaska and 793 in Anchorage. The rates are notably lower in Mat-Su, at 317, and the Kenai, at 281, but that’s still more than three times the national benchmark.

Teen births are also noted. Nationally, the teen birth rate per 1,000 women ages 15-19 is 22. It’s twice that for Alaska and Anchorage. The rate for the lower Yukon, however, is 103. Every year, about one in every 10 teen girls in that area has a baby, on average.

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