A Geographic Overview of Smoking Trends Across the US

In a recent initiative to map smoking trends across the United States, an innovative application of ArcGIS Pro’s Empirical Bayes Kriging method offered new insights into regional smoking behaviors. This analysis was based on data from the PLACES project by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which provides detailed health-related estimates for various geographic levels nationwide.

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The Methodology

The project utilized the CDC’s PLACES dataset, incorporating model-based estimates from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for 2021 and 2020, Census Bureau 2010 population estimates, and American Community Survey (ACS) 2015-2019 estimates. A kriging map was employed to predict and visualize the spatial distribution of smoking rates geographically.


The following EBK settings were used:

This resulted in a reasonable model fit:

With the following results:

Key Observations

The analysis identified several regions with distinct smoking rates:

  • The southeastern United States displayed significantly higher smoking rates.
  • In contrast, the northeastern United States showed substantially lower smoking rates.
  • Northwest New Mexico and northeast Arizona were noted for higher rates of smoking.
  • Most of Nevada had higher smoking rates, while Utah and the majority of California exhibited lower rates.
  • Southeast Colorado showed higher smoking rates, unlike most other parts of the state.

Interpretation of Results

The statistical outputs from the kriging map provided a solid foundation for these observations:

  • The model’s mean standardized score was nearly zero and the root-mean-square standardized score was close to one, indicating reliable predictions.
  • The average standard error, calculated at approximately 2.58, provided insight into the variability and confidence of the estimated rates.

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