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States With Smoker-Friendly Laws

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Americans have grown increasingly divided on the issue of smoking.

Virtually no states had smoking laws Dec. 31, 2000, but only a decade later, almost half have comprehensive smoking laws banning people from lighting up in restaurants, bars and private-sector workplaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency predicts that all states will have comprehensive smoke-free laws by 2020.

Smoking may be taboo many places, but there are some states that refuse to submit to the nonsmoking trend.

So, as you make your domestic travel plans this summer (becausewho can afford to fly to Rio these days?) or relocate for work, keep in mind the differences: You might not have the luxury to smoke anywhere you want to, or may even find yourself in a smoky bar that would never be allowed back home.

Smoking may be taboo many places, but there are some states that refuse to submit to the nonsmoking trend. Here are the seven that have no statewide laws at all, and a look at some of the rest that have limited anti-smoking laws.

The most smoker-friendly states
In its study, the CDC found that smoke-free laws are largely regional. The New England and Mid-Atlantic states were some of the first to enact comprehensive anti-smoking laws, with many Midwest states and Hawaii following soon after. As of Dec. 31, no Southern state had adopted a comprehensive smoke-free law prohibiting smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces.

Those with no such statewide smoking restrictions include:
1. Texas
2. Mississippi
3. Kentucky
4. South Carolina
5. West Virginia
6. Wyoming
7. Indiana

Some states have enacted limited restrictions, though, such as allowing smoking if there's a designated area or separate ventilation in the venue. Here are eight states that falls into this category:

Alabama
Worksites: Designated areas only
Restaurants: No restrictions
Bars: No restrictions
Interestingly, the Heart of Dixie is the only state with laws prohibiting the use of cigarettes by people under 19, in addition to the sale to or purchase of tobacco products by young people, according to the CDC.

Alaska
Worksites: No restrictions
Restaurants: Designated areas only
Bars: No restrictions
Considering the outspoken Sarah Palin, it is not surprising Alaska would be a rogue state when it comes to smoking laws. Among other smoker-friendly states, Alaska is the only one that has no provisions in place to restrict the purchase of cigarettes by young people.

Oklahoma
Worksites: Designated areas only
Restaurants: Ventilated areas only
Bars: No restrictions
In Oklahoma, about 25% of the adult population smokes, a big number among the states with lax smoking controls, according to data collected for the CDC report. Additionally, smoking prevalence among the state's youth is 3% higher than the national average.

Virginia
Worksites: No restrictions
Restaurants: Ventilated areas only
Bar: Ventilated areas only
In Virginia, smoking among youth is not very common. According to state data, 9 million people have died from smoking-related causes from 2000 to 2004.

Georgia
Worksites: Designated areas only
Restaurants: Designated areas only
Bars: Designated areas only
In July 2005, Georgia passed its Smokefree Air Act to ban smoking except in designated areas. From 2000 to 2004, roughly 10.5 million people died from smoking-related issues in Georgia, costing the state heftily, not only in lives, but in health expenditures.

Missouri
Worksites: Designated areas only
Restaurants: Designated areas only
Bars: Designated areas only
States around the U.S. are cracking down on smoking by increasing the tax on packs of cigarettes, but Missourians don't have to dish out a lot for a pack of smokes -- an average of $4.03, according to comparison data on the CDC website. This is chump change compared with what Alaskans ($7.60 per pack) and Georgians ($7.40 per pack) have to pay. The state of Missouri charges only 17 cents in state tax, and the federal tax is $1.01 per pack. As a result Missouri shows high cigarette consumption, with an average of 97 packs per person in 2009.

Connecticut
Worksites: Ventilated areas only
Restaurants: Ventilated areas only
Bars: Ventilated areas only
Only in 2003 did Connecticut pass a law requiring venues to have separate ventilation if they allow smoking. But smokers in Connecticut have to pay high taxes on cigarettes, totaling $4.01 -- 54% of the retail price, according to the CDC. This is second only to Rhode Island, which was the first state to implement smoke-free laws and remains the strictest.

California
Worksites: Ventilated areas only
Restaurants: Ventilated areas only
Bars: Ventilated areas only
California has had smoking restrictions on the books since 1994, though the state still allows smoking in rooms with separate ventilation. The city of San Luis Obispo was the first in the U.S. to adopt a law that banned smoking in bars in 1990, according to the CDC.

Thanks to California's large population, the state also has the highest smoking-attributable health expenditures across the board, doling out roughly $9 billion a year in ambulatory care, hospital care, nurse care and prescription drugs and logging roughly 37 million deaths from smoking-related issues per year.

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