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FOR RELEASE: August 5, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Oklahoma Smoking Rates on the Decline
Continued Focus on Health Urged

State health officials announced today that smoking rates among Oklahoma adults have dropped significantly in the first six months of 2005 as compared to calendar year 2004. These findings, along with related information from other state agencies are largely credited to the tobacco tax increase approved by state voters in November 2004 and effective on January 1, 2005.

“Conservatively, the latest findings show that there are at least 30,000 fewer smokers in the state than last year, said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher. “Not only are more Oklahomans quitting smoking, many who still smoke are smoking less and are making more quit attempts.” Preliminary results from the 2005 Oklahoma

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System indicate the following:

  • Current smokers decreased from 26.1 percent in 2004 to 24.4 percent in the first six months of 2005.
  • Former smokers increased from 22.3 percent in 2004 to 23.8 percent in the first six months of 2005.
  • Current smokers who smoke every day decreased from 19.9 percent in 2004 to 18.5 percent in the first six months of 2005.
  • Current smokers who have tried to quit smoking within the past year increased from 52 percent in 2004 to 54 percent in the first six months of 2005.

Information from other state agencies also indicates that tobacco use in Oklahoma is down in 2005. The latest data from the Oklahoma Tax Commission show that total cigarette sales (non-tribal and tribal sales combined) are down by 15 percent, or about 4.4 million fewer packs per month.

The Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust reports that Oklahoma’s toll-free tobacco cessation helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) has now served over 12,000 callers since the tax was approved, nearly a five-fold increase over the same time period last year.

“The decision by state voters to raise the tobacco tax is clearly having a positive impact on the state’s current and future health status,” said Crutcher. “Many other states have increased tobacco taxes and have also successfully reduced their smoking rates. If we can keep the focus on health as a high priority for our state, all Oklahomans will reap the benefits for generations to come.”

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System is a representative survey of all Oklahoma adults 18 years of age and older measuring health behaviors contributing to disease and premature death. A total of 6,880 telephone surveys were completed during the first six months of 2005.

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