Oklahoma public health officials recently announced that for the first time, Oklahoma now has more former smokers than current smokers. Analysis of 2010 adult smoking data indicates Oklahoma has dropped to a new historic low.
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 hasused 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.
The LeFlore County Coalition for Healthy Living, with LeFlore County Youth Services as lead agency, oversees Tobacco-free LeFlore County. Tobacco-free LeFlore County is a TSET grantee with the vision of a community where people live, work, play and learn in a tobacco-free environment. For more information or to join Tobacco-free LeFlore County in their efforts please call918) 647-4196, email BJ Barnes (Program Coordinator) at [email protected] or look us up on Facebook.