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For Release: Aug. 23, 2013 – Pamela Williams, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

Oklahoma Smoking Rate Drops

Oklahoma now ranks 39th among all states for adult smoking, a significant improvement from last year’s ranking of 47th. This improved ranking is a result of Oklahoma’s smoking percentage dropping from 26.1 percent in 2011 to 23.3 percent in 2012, which is a new historic low rate for Oklahoma. 

“This is another great milestone in our efforts to reduce the negative health effects of tobacco in our state,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “While it is fantastic to see Oklahoma out of the bottom ten states for smoking rates, we still have work to do to reduce the devastating health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke.”

Smoking is Oklahoma's leading preventable cause of death, killing more Oklahomans than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, suicides, murders, and illegal drugs combined. Yet the latest data shows improvement in many areas of smoking:

  • There were an estimated 75,000 fewer adult smokers in 2012 than 2011.
  • The percent of “never smokers” increased from 49.2 percent in 2011 to 52.4 percent in 2012, which is estimated to be about 100,000 more Oklahomans who have never smoked.
  • The percent of Oklahomans who smoke every day decreased from 19.9 percent in 2011 to 17 percent in 2012.

Overall, the purchase of cigarettes in Oklahoma has also decreased. The most recent fiscal year saw more than 14 million fewer cigarette tax stamps sold by the Oklahoma Tax Commission, which equals a 5.2 percent drop in cigarette packs sold. In the past decade, the number of cigarette tax stamps sold has decreased by 100 million overall.

“The decreases in our smoking rate and cigarette sales will help create a healthier Oklahoma for the next generation,” said Cline. “These improvements would not be possible without historic legislative support for smokefree indoor air, the public's support for the creation of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust and its dedicated funding, and the public's support of a tobacco tax that helps fund important work to educate Oklahomans about the negative health effects of smoking. These efforts will literally save the lives of thousands of Oklahomans.”

Last year, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline received approximately 34,000 calls from Oklahomans interested in quitting tobacco. For information on quitting tobacco, call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or register online at www.okhelpline.com.

 

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