(Salt Lake City) – Utah’s youth smoking rate has plunged by more than 50 percent since 1999 and is now at its lowest recorded level. That’s according to the just-released Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) Twelfth Annual Report. Rates have dropped in nearly all local health districts (LHDs) and research shows that a milestone number of tobacco users have taken advantage of state-sponsored tobacco cessation programs.
Funding from the Master Settlement Agreement and cigarette excise taxes, as well as the efforts of Utah’s 12 local health districts and other community partners, have helped the TPCP make significant strides in tobacco prevention, cessation, and education:
• Over the past year, nearly 12,000 tobacco users received free tobacco cessation support services from TPCP.
• As of the end of June 2012, TPCP had partnered with 21 local school districts to strengthen tobacco-free policies in 460 schools serving 220,000 students.
• More adult smokers who had seen or heard anti-tobacco ads stated they were “very interested” in quitting than smokers who did not report seeing or hearing anti-tobacco ads.
• 88 percent of adult smokers were aware of the Utah Tobacco Quit Line.
• 92 percent of adult smokers knew about UtahQuitNet.com.
• 358 Intermountain Medical Group clinics and 12 other hospitals and clinics implemented policies to protect their patients and visitors from secondhand smoke.
In addition, a milestone number of tobacco users have now been helped by state-sponsored tobacco cessation programs.
“We're pleased to announce that 100,000 Utahns have now been served by our tobacco cessation programs, The Utah Tobacco Quit Line and UtahQuitNet.com,” said Dr. David Patton, UDOH Executive Director.
Despite the many successes, the battle continues.
“At 11.3 percent, Utah’s adult smoking rate is the lowest in the nation,” said TPCP Marketing Manager Amy Oliver. “But our work is far from finished as there are still 220,000 adult smokers in Utah and four out of five of them want to quit. That’s where we come in,” she added.
The report also highlights the tobacco industry’s recent shift to marketing new products like dissolvable tobacco, hookahs, and electronic cigarettes directly to youth, including minorities, children from low-income families, and those suffering from mental health and other substance abuse issues,
“Our data show the marketing to these groups is working, said Patton. “We are seeing higher usage rates of some of these products, especially among youth, and high levels of dual use with cigarettes,” said Patton.
Tobacco use costs the Utah economy approximately $663 million annually in smoking-related medical expenses and lost productivity. In addition, Big Tobacco continues to outspend prevention and cessation programs in the industry’s efforts to recruit new users.
Due to a recent change in data collection methodology, adult smoking estimates from this year’s report are not comparable to previous years. For more information or to view a copy of the annual report, visit http://www.tobaccofreeutah.org/.
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