The Edmond Sun

September 24, 2013

State smoking rates lowest ever

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

OKLA. CITY — The good news is Oklahoma’s smoking rates are the lowest ever recorded, said Tracey Strader, executive director of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.

Gov. Mary Fallin joined leaders from state health provider associations for the Oklahoma launch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Tips from Former Smokers, Talk With Your Doctor” campaign.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has served more than 300,000 Oklahomans since the helpline began 10 years ago, Strader said.

Oklahoma’s ranking for adult smoking among all states improved from last year’s ranking as 47th to 39th place this year, Health and Human Services Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline said at the state Capitol Tuesday morning. This ranking reflects a smoking population of 26.1 percent in 2011 to 23.3 percent in 2012, he said.

• 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.

Fallin noted the Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma secured a $22.3 million research grant this week from the National Institutes of Health.

“I’m glad there’s a nationwide effort to encourage people who need a little extra help in kicking the habit to be able to talk to their doctors …,” Fallin said.

The National Health interview survey reveals that 70 percent of all smokers say they would like to quit, Fallin said. The same survey shows that smokers are twice as likely to abstain from smoking when they do so with the advice of a physician.

“Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the state of Oklahoma,” said Fallin, who lost her parents due to smoking-related diseases. “We lose 6,000 loved ones each year from smoking-related illnesses.”

Tobacco use costs the state of Oklahoma more than $2 billion every year in health care costs, she said. Smoking cessation not only improves the quality of life, but reduces health care costs and improves productivity in the workforce, Fallin said.

LAST YEAR, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline received about 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