Utah’s Smoking Rate Drops, says UDOH

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Everyone is aware of the adverse medical affects tobacco can have on a person, from poor circulation to lung cancer. It’s because of these ill effects on the body that, according to reports, 60 percent of adult smokers in Utah want to overcome their habit within the coming month.

Photo credit: courtesy of SXC.HU

Photo credit: courtesy of SXC.HU

However, not only does quitting tobacco positively affect your health, but throwing out your smokes and chew can apparently be a boon to the struggling economy as well.

Tobacco use in America reportedly costs taxpayers $369 million in smoking-attributable health costs and another $294 million in lost productivity – all those 10-minute cigarette breaks can add up.

This is why the Utah Department of Health is happy to announce some good news: The Utah adult smoking rate has recently reached a meager 9.1 percent this year, according to the UDOH Tobacco Prevention and Control Program’s ninth annual report. This is a 33 percent decrease since 1999, when the program received Master Settlement tobacco restitution funds. These funds made a comprehensive state-run tobacco prevention and cessation program possible.

According to David Sundwall, executive director of the UDOH, had the smoking rate not declined at all, Utah would be home to 85,000 additional adult smokers – about half the population of Salt Lake City.

“The anti-tobacco program has been instrumental in decreasing Utah’s tobacco use rate,” says Sundwall.

In addition to the general 33 percent decrease in Utah smokers, the TPCP report indicated that since 1999 the number of pregnant women who smoke has dropped 29 percent, and the number of high school smokers has decreased by 34 percent.

However, for Sundwall, the UDOH and the TPCP, the fight is not yet over. While large steps have been taken through community programs, the TRUTH campaign, and local health departments, roughly 190, 000 Utahns still smoke. As a result, 1,150 Utahns die each year from tobacco-related illness.

Meanwhile the Tobacco Industry, according to Sundwall, has been “aggressively marketing a new line of smokeless tobacco products to addict a new generation of tobacco users.”

Those interested in more information or assistance in quitting tobacco are invited to visit www.TobaccoFreeUtah.org or www.UtahQuitNet.com