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For Release: Nov.3, 2015 – Tony Sellars, Office of Communications (405) 271-5601

Smoking Rates in Oklahoma Decline to an All-Time Low

Adult smoking in Oklahoma has decreased by 19 percent in the past four years, reaching an all-time low as a result of focused efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use.  The number of adult smokers dropped by almost 78,000 between 2013 and 2014 alone. The decrease has moved Oklahoma’s ranking to 40th in the nation, up from 47th at the start of this decade. 

“This is great news and a sign that our efforts have been effective,” said Dr. Terry Cline, Cabinet Secretary of Health and Human Services and Commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, “But even as we celebrate this milestone we know our tobacco rates are still well above the national average and our work must continue. We have more than 600,000 Oklahoma adults addicted to cigarettes and 88,000 kids alive in Oklahoma today will die prematurely from smoking.  That is just not right.”

While the overall smoking rate is down, there is still improvement to be made. Survey data shows that 25 – 34 year olds remain the group with the highest percentage of smokers at 28.4 percent, followed by 18 – 24 year olds at 24.1 percent.   

“We must continue efforts that prevent children and young adults from picking up smoking”, said Governor Mary Fallin. “Smoking prevention and cessation saves lives, saves money for families, improves our economy and helps deliver a healthier workforce. I want to thank the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), the Oklahoma State Department of Health and all the community partners for their efforts and ask them to keep up the good work.”

According to survey results for 2014, 7.6% of Oklahoma residents say they are using e-cigarettes, which to date have not proven to be an effective way to eliminate tobacco use.

“Although more than a third of current or recently quit smokers indicate they use an e-cigarette or vapor product, we know from Oklahoma Quitline data that people who try to use e-cigarettes to quit smoking are 43 percent less likely to quit as compared to people not using them,” said Adrienne Rollins, Tobacco Use Prevention Manager at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Multiple programs and policy changes are responsible for the reduced number of smokers. Governor Fallin signed an executive order to support tobacco-free state property, House Bill 1685 eliminated tobacco use on school property and at school sponsored events, more than 24,000 Oklahomans called the TSET funded Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, and a number of voluntary tobacco free policies were also enacted by businesses and communities across the state. 

Tobacco control and prevention efforts in the state support the goals outlined in the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan 2020 (OHIP2020) developed in collaboration by public and private sector agencies and organizations. The plan outlines the basic steps Oklahoma can take to create a healthier state in the areas of tobacco control and prevention, obesity, behavioral health and children’s health.  For more information go to OHIP2020.com.

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