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For Release: October 11, 2011
Contact: Leslea Bennett-Webb, OSDH, (405) 271-5601 – after hours: (405) 684-3920
Sjonna Paulson, APR, TSET, (405) 521-3885 – after hours: (405) 596-9399
Oklahoma Smoking Rate Reaches Historic Low
100,000 Fewer Smokers in Oklahoma in 2010
In 2001, the adult smoking rate in the state was 28.7 percent, dropping to a new low of 23.7 percent in 2010. The overall decrease from 2001 to 2010 is considered a statistically significant decline and represents 100,000 fewer Oklahomans who smoke in 2010.
“This decline in the number of our citizens who smoke is a milestone that should be celebrated by all Oklahomans,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “The Oklahoma State Department of Health, Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, and many other community partners, healthcare providers, business owners, tribal organizations, and policy makers have worked together for years to achieve this significant decrease in Oklahoma’s smoking rate, and as a result, literally hundreds and hundreds of lives will be saved.”
Because of these efforts, Oklahoma has also noted a decrease in the number of cigarette packs sold, from 108 packs per person in 2001, to 71 packs per person in 2010.
“Although Oklahoma has made real progress over the past decade in reducing tobacco’s deadly toll on our state, we still have a long way to go,” Cline said. “The national adult smoking rate is currently 20.6 percent, and if we could achieve the same rate in our state, an additional 100,000 Oklahomans could be living healthier, smokefree lives. These decreases in tobacco use mean fewer of us will have to suffer unnecessary and preventable deaths, or the death of people we care about and love.”
“It takes a combination of effective programs and policies to overcome decades of tobacco industry influence,” said TSET Executive Director Tracey Strader. “Oklahoma’s commitment to proven approaches such as community grants to promote policy change, health communication campaigns, and effective smoking cessation services has helped ensure a healthier future for our state.”
Oklahoma is the only state in the nation to have constitutionally protected the majority of the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement funds by placing them in an endowment to ensure a growing source of funding dedicated to improving health. For the past nine years, TSET has used part of the earnings from the endowment to fund programs such as the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW), the “Tobacco Stops With Me” health communication campaign, and the “Communities of Excellence in Tobacco Control” grant program.
“For the first time, all the critical elements of a comprehensive tobacco control program are in place in Oklahoma,” said OSDH Chief Operating Officer Julie Cox-Kain. “These elements are described in the Oklahoma State Plan for Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation, and the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan, and are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
As a result of these efforts, more than 200 public school districts in Oklahoma now have tobacco-free policies on campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, meaning that two-thirds of Oklahoma’s public school students attend a tobacco-free school. At least 17 universities and five career-tech campuses in the state are tobacco-free, while dozens of Oklahoma businesses have adopted tobacco-free policies, as have 27 hospitals in metropolitan areas and 23 rural hospitals in the state.
In addition, evaluation results from the “Tobacco Stops With Me” campaign show that the campaign has doubled the number of quit attempts among smokers, increased knowledge of the harms of secondhand smoke, increased support for tobacco-free environments, and encouraged Oklahomans to take action to prevent and reduce tobacco use in their communities.
A timeline of major actions contributing to the reduction of smoking in Oklahoma follows:
For information on how to quit tobacco use, call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or register online at www.okhelpline.com . For information on Oklahoma’s tobacco use prevention programs visit http://tups.health.ok.gov or http://www.tset.ok.gov.
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