OKLAHOMA CITY - When discussing the impact of tobacco use, Oklahoma’s leading cause of preventable death, the focus often turns to its tragic health effects and loss of life. However, every Oklahoma business and citizen also bears an enormous financial burden. Tobacco-Free Oklahoma Week, January 24-30, 2011, highlights these very real burdens that create a drag on economic development in our state.
The Costs of Tobacco Use
Every Oklahoma household on average pays $556 each year in state and federal taxes to cover smoking-caused costs, whether or not they smoke.
“Reducing tobacco use and making a commitment to better health must be a top priority for all Oklahomans if our state is to be economically successful” said Tracey Strader, executive director of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET). “Existing and prospective employers closely examine health care costs when considering expansion and relocation. A healthy workforce will bolster our competitiveness and economic development.”
Steps to Reduce Costs
“In addition, other states have proven that tobacco use can be reduced by implementing effective policies and programs at the local and state levels,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “However, until laws put in place by the tobacco industry in the 1980’s and 90’s are repealed and local rights are returned to communities, cities and towns in Oklahoma are prohibited from passing local tobacco prevention ordinances that would protect their citizens and create a healthier workforce. Not allowing communities to produce a healthier workforce puts us at a competitive disadvantage in the fight for jobs and a growing economy.”
Even though smoking rates are high, the good news is that 3 out of 4 Oklahoma smokers want to quit. Serious quit attempts in the state are at an all time high. While many successfully quit on their own, receive services through health insurance or by talking to their doctor, there are also a variety of free services available for those who are seeking advice on quitting, including the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW).
“Not only is tobacco use taking a personal toll through disease and death, the associated costs are killing the economic growth of our communities and the state,” added Cline. “From businesses to communities to individuals, each of us has a role to play in improving the lives and livelihoods of all Oklahomans by preventing and reducing tobacco use.”
Quitting Tobacco Use Support
BecomeAnEX.org - a free online quit smoking program that helps you re-learn your life without cigarettes. This website has a social networking component and is funded through the American Legacy Foundation.
Smokefree.gov and Women.Smokefree.gov - free online quit smoking programs that have access to “Live Help” online through text messaging with a National Cancer Institute smoking cessation counselor.