FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

OKLAHOMA SMOKING RATE DROPS

Oklahoma City – August, 23, 2013 — 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.

###

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a free service for Oklahomans wanting to quit tobacco. Funding is primarily provided by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Oklahoma Employees Group Insurance Division and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has served more than 300,000 Oklahomans since 2003 and was ranked the top quitline for reaching tobacco users seeking treatment in FY2013 by the North American Quitline Consortium.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. To learn more go to: www.ok.gov/tset.

For more information, contact:
Elyse Maxwell
elysem@tset.ok.gov
(405) 568-8568