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FOR RELEASE: February 13, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Oklahoma State Board of Health Passes Three Resolutions on Important Health Care Issues

The Oklahoma State Board of Health passed three resolutions during a regular meeting of the board yesterday in an effort to demonstrate support for ongoing efforts in the state that address tobacco use prevention, tort reform, and obesity. These resolutions follow.

Oklahoma State Board of Health Resolution
Support for Increasing State Excise Taxes on Tobacco Products
to Reduce Tobacco Addiction Among
Oklahoma Children and Adults
February 12, 2004

WHEREAS tobacco addiction remains Oklahoma’s number one public health problem, significantly contributing to our alarming rates of heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and killing an estimated 5,700 Oklahomans each year, or an average of 16 each day, and

WHEREAS tobacco addiction also causes an increased risk of low-birth-weight deliveries, miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and

WHEREAS the cigarette consumption rate in Oklahoma is 102 packs per person per year compared to a national rate of 80 packs per person per year, and

WHEREAS among Oklahoma smokers, three out of four adults and one-half of youths report they want to completely stop smoking, and

WHEREAS Oklahoma youth continue to be plagued by tobacco addiction at rates higher than the nation-at-large, and

WHEREAS if current trends continue, an estimated 77,000 Oklahoma children alive today will die prematurely from the consequences of tobacco addiction, and

WHEREAS the estimated direct and indirect medical costs of tobacco addiction in Oklahoma are $2.2 billion annually, and

WHEREAS raising the cost of tobacco acts as a deterrent, pricing some users out of the marketplace, most notably youth and pregnant women, with a 10 percent increase in price leading to an overall four percent decline in consumption of cigarettes but a seven percent decrease in consumption among youth and pregnant women, and

WHEREAS the current Oklahoma state excise tax on a pack of cigarettes is only 23 cents, while the national average is 73 cents and 81 cents among non-tobacco producing states and over 30 states have recently increased state excise taxes on cigarettes, and

WHEREAS the Oklahoma Alliance on Health or Tobacco including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the State Medical Association and many others have called for a $1 increase in state tobacco excise taxes to lessen the impact of tobacco use on our society, and thereby to improve the overall state of health, and

WHEREAS the Governor of Oklahoma and leaders of a growing number of tribal nations have successfully crafted new tribal compacts that will help to “level the playing field” between tribal tobacco outlets and other tobacco retailers, now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Health expresses its appreciation and support to the elected policy makers of Oklahoma in their continuing efforts to effectively reduce the significant public health risk posed by tobacco addiction in Oklahoma, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that to help deter consumption of tobacco products, especially new tobacco addictions among youth, the Oklahoma State Board of Health encourages the Oklahoma Legislature to refer to a vote of the people a ballot measure that, if approved, would increase the net state tax on cigarettes by no less than 52 cents per pack while simultaneously increasing the state tax on all other tobacco products.

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Oklahoma State Board of Health Resolution
Position on Tort Reform in Public Health
February 12, 2004

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma State Board of Health has the responsibility to protect and promote the health of our citizens, to prevent disease and injury, and to assure the conditions by which our citizens can be healthy, and

WHEREAS, the costs of health insurance are dramatically increasing and nearly 24% of Oklahoma’s adult population are without medical insurance coverage, and

WHEREAS, Oklahoma citizens without insurance coverage frequently have no choice but to seek primary medical care in hospital emergency rooms causing these facilities to be inundated and frequently unable to provide trauma and emergency care to critical patients when needed, and

WHEREAS, the cost of medical liability insurance in conjunction with the increasing number of medical malpractice suits as well as the large medical malpractice settlements drives the cost of medical care and medical insurance ever higher, and

WHEREAS, there are a limited number of liability insurance carriers, and

WHEREAS, the high costs and lack of medical liability insurance are causing a number of physician and medical providers to cease providing services creating critical access to health care in some areas of Oklahoma, and

WHEREAS, the Legislature and Governor made progress toward medical liability reform last year, several areas of concern await further action.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: The Oklahoma State Board of Health is encouraged by the recent agreement between Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Governor to adopt a range of proposals which significantly curb medical liability lawsuit abuse in Oklahoma. The Board supports the passage of similar broad-based medical liability reform this session to ensure the continued provision of healthcare to the citizens of Oklahoma.
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Oklahoma State Board of Health Resolution
Oklahoma Fit Kids Coalition
February 12, 2004

WHEREAS, the epidemic of childhood obesity has become an immediate crisis; and

WHEREAS, nationally the percent of children who are obese has tripled in the last two decades; and

WHEREAS, 15% of Oklahoma children and youth are overweight; and

WHEREAS, obesity leads to placing children and youth at risk for multiple chronic diseases, especially type 2 diabetes and heart disease; and

WHEREAS, obesity threatens the life expectancy of all Oklahoma, but especially children and youth, and reduces years of productive life; and

WHEREAS, the causes of obesity include sedentary lifestyle and consumption of non-nutritive food selections; and

WHEREAS, Oklahoma is the third most sedentary state in the nation; and

WHEREAS, 84% of Oklahomans agree that physical education should be a requirement in schools; and

WHEREAS, 40% of the average family food budget is spent on eating meals out; and

WHEREAS, Oklahomans are least likely to eat fruits and vegetable servings, being the third worst state in the nation; and

WHEREAS, 63% of Oklahomans support the removal of vending machines that contain products such as soda and candy from schools; and

WHEREAS, obesity costs Oklahoma $1.3 billion dollars annually, surpassing the costs of tobacco related disease; now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Oklahoma State Board of Health strongly endorses the mission and legislative agenda of the Oklahoma Fit Kids Coalition and will continue to actively support and participate in this Initiative; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oklahoma State Board of Health recommends the following actions:

  • increase public awareness of the epidemic of obesity and its grave consequences
  • advocate for proper nutrition and physical activity policies in schools, worksites, healthcare institutions, and governmental entities
  • plan and implement community actions that include smart growth strategies and environmental policies to increase physical activity and healthy nutrition; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oklahoma State Board of Health will continue to recognize and combat the epidemic of obesity as a public health priority.

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