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For Release: July 7, 2009
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

New State Plan Calls on All Oklahomans to Help Reduce Tobacco Use

A new state plan urges all Oklahomans to help reduce the state’s leading preventable cause of death. The new plan, announced today by the Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee, calls for reducing tobacco use rates in Oklahoma to below the national rates by 2012. Achieving this goal would result in 200,000 fewer adult and youth tobacco users in the state.

“Almost every Oklahoman has had loved ones die from tobacco use,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Terry Cline, chairperson of the Advisory Committee. “Because tobacco use affects all of us in some way, everyone has a role to play in reaching the ambitious goal of this new state plan.”

Killing over 5,800 Oklahomans each year, tobacco use is a major risk factor for the four leading causes of death in Oklahoma – heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and every phase of reproduction. For every person who dies from tobacco use, another 20 suffer with at least one serious tobacco-caused illness. Secondhand smoke contains at least 250 toxic chemicals.

The state plan includes the following recommendations:

  • Make your homes and cars tobacco-free at all times.
  • Urge elected officials to support public policies to prevent initiation of tobacco use and protect the public and workers from secondhand smoke.
  • Join a coalition to help make a difference in your community.
  • Refuse all tobacco industry sponsorships and materials.
  • Business owners and managers are asked to establish tobacco-free property policies and offer smoking cessation to employees through group insurance plans or wellness programs.
  • Health care professionals are asked to advise patients to quit tobacco and refer them to resources for quitting including 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  • Schools are asked to adopt a tobacco-free property policy, integrate tobacco prevention into the core curriculum, and support Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) teams.

“Tobacco companies need to be shown the tremendous power of Oklahomans when we come together to overcome tragedy in the lives of our families and friends,” said Cline.

The tobacco industry spends an estimated $246 million each year to promote smoking in Oklahoma.

The 20-member Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee was created by the Oklahoma Legislature through the 2001 Oklahoma Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Act. The State Plan may be viewed online at http://www.ok.gov/health/documents/StatePlan.pdf. Copies are also available by calling the Tobacco Use Prevention Service of the Oklahoma State Department of Health at (405) 271-3619.

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