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Tobacco Talking Points

Primary Messages:

  1. The TOBACCO problem is huge: "Tobacco addiction is Oklahoma’s leading cause of preventable death, killing an estimated 6,000 Oklahomans each year. More Oklahomans die from tobacco use each year than from homicides, suicides, AIDS, alcohol, illegal drugs and car accidents COMBINED."
  2. Tobacco prevention works: "Results from other states consistently indicate that a comprehensive, community-based effort is the key to a successful tobacco use prevention and cessation program. The "Four Cornerstones for Success" are Community-based initiatives, Classroom programs, Counter-marketing, and Cessation assistance.
  3. Oklahoma needs to act now: "Funds obtained in the Master Settlement Agreement need to be spent in significant part on effectively reducing the tobacco problem. If we do not act, we will continue to see mounting costs in lives, in years lived with disabilities, in health care expenditures in both the private sector and in the state budget, and in opportunities lost for economic development."

Supporting Information:

The TOBACCO problem is huge: "Tobacco addiction is Oklahoma’s leading cause of preventable death, killing an estimated 6,000 Oklahomans each year. More Oklahomans die from tobacco use each year than from homicides, suicides, AIDS, alcohol, illegal drugs and car accidents COMBINED."

  • Oklahoma has the ninth-highest smoking-related death rate in the country. Each day, an average of 16 Oklahomans die as a direct result of tobacco addiction (over 6,000 tobacco-caused deaths per year).
  • Over 14,000 Oklahoma children (or about 40 a day) become new daily smokers each year. If current trends continue, about 63,000 Oklahoma children now under the age of 18 will die from smoking.
  • In Oklahoma, 42 percent of high school students and 21 percent of middle school students are current users of tobacco products. This is substantially higher than the national rates (35 percent for high school students and 13 percent for middle school students).
  • Smoking during pregnancy nearly triples the risk for low-birth weight babies.
  • In Oklahoma, three out of four adult smokers and one-half of youth smokers want to quit smoking.

Tobacco prevention works: "Results from other states consistently indicate that a comprehensive, community-based effort is the key to a successful tobacco use prevention and cessation program. The "Four Cornerstones for Success" are Community-based initiatives, Classroom programs, Counter-marketing, and Cessation assistance.

  • The national cigarette consumption rate is 86 packs per person per year compared to a consumption rate in Massachusetts of 64 packs per person per year and a consumption rate in California of 52 packs per person per year. [The consumption rate in Oklahoma is 112 packs per person per year].
  • California: Cigarette consumption has declined by over 40 percent since California’s program began in 1990. In addition, while national teen smoking rates have been increasing during 1990s, smoking among California teenagers has remained stable at much lower rates. The proportion of California children exposed to secondhand smoke in the home has decreased by 55 percent. The illegal sale of tobacco products to youth declined by 50 percent between 1994 and 1997.
  • Massachusetts: Since the start of this program in 1993, total tobacco consumption has fallen at four times the rate of the rest of the country. In addition, those who smoke are smoking less, with the percentage of "heavy smokers" dropping by 10 percent. The number of women smoking during pregnancy has been reduced by 48 percent. Smoking rates among high school students have dropped by 15 percent since 1995.
  • Oregon: After only two years, Oregon’s comprehensive tobacco prevention program has resulted in an 11 percent drop in per capita cigarette consumption. Smoking among pregnant women has already declined by 14 percent.
  • Florida: After just two years of implementation, the Florida program has resulted in 80,000 fewer smokers among middle and high school students. According to the latest Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, tobacco use by middle school students dropped by 54 percent, and tobacco use by high school students dropped by 24 percent since the start of the program in 1998.

Oklahoma needs to act now: "Funds obtained in the Master Settlement Agreement need to be spent in significant part on effectively reducing the tobacco problem. If we do not act, we will continue to see mounting costs in lives, in years lived with disabilities, in health care expenditures in both the private sector and in the state budget, and in opportunities lost for economic development."

  • Regardless of which funding approach is decided upon by our elected leaders, Oklahoma needs to implement an effective, comprehensive program at the earliest possible date. With each year that a comprehensive prevention and cessation program is not in place, thousands of Oklahoma children will unnecessarily become addicted to this deadly product, tens of thousands of Oklahoma adults will not receive the assistance that would effectively help them break their addiction, and Oklahoma will continue to incur the tremendous economic and human costs associated with tobacco use.
  • Oklahoma spends over $690 million each year on tobacco-caused health problems. When indirect costs, including missed work days and lost productivity are included, the total tobacco-caused costs in Oklahoma exceed $1 billion each year (or average of $300 per capita).
  • The tobacco industry spends an estimated $64 million each year (or an average of $20 per capita) to promote their product in Oklahoma.
  • CDC has estimated that implementing an effective tobacco prevention and cessation program in Oklahoma will require between $21.8 and 56.3 million each year (or $6.58 to $16.98 per capita).
  • The American Legacy Foundation activities are very limited and cannot replace state efforts.
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