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Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Indiana Tobacco Prevention & Cessation Celebrates Milestones

In Local News, State News on February 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm

This op-ed by Sandy Gleim was published in the Herald Argus:

After 10 years working on the local and state levels, Indiana Tobacco Prevention & Cessation is celebrating impressive milestones that positively impact Hoosier health.

  • Smoking rates for high school youth have dropped by 42 percent, resulting in 49,000 fewer youth smokers.
  • Adult smoking decreased from 27 to 23 percent. This historic low rate means there are 207,000 fewer smokers in Indiana.
  • Per capita cigarette consumption has declined by 40 percent.
  • More than 2,000 community organizations statewide – including in LaPorte County – are working to help reduce tobacco use.
  • Many more Hoosiers are protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke, within 30 smoke-free communities.
  • The Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW has served more than 60,000 residents since it was launched in 2006.
  • 70 percent of Indiana’s schools have a tobacco-free campus, an increase from 28 percent.

That is much good work to applaud! But the flip side is there are still more than one million smokers in our state, translating to 9,700 deaths each year. An additional 194,000 Hoosiers live with serious tobacco-related illness. The tobacco use burden to the Indiana economy is estimated at $7.7 billion annually, and the state spends a whopping $487 million each year on Medicaid payments caused by tobacco use. The bottom line is that many Hoosiers continue to smoke, ultimately costing the state and taxpayers in increased health care costs.

Balancing all these facts, it’s apparent while much has been achieved in Indiana, we still have major work ahead to improve our health status.

Enacting smoke-free policy is not only an effective measure in leading persons to give up smoking, but public health advocates support 100% comprehensive legislation to protect the rights of all workers to breathe healthy air. Once again, our legislature is considering a statewide smoke-free policy. The House bill contains numerous exemptions to public places, including bars. Now the Senate has the chance to debate the issue and hopefully to strengthen the stance.

As these discussions progress, from an economic as well as a health angle, it benefits Indiana to support comprehensive smoke-free policy and the continued prevention and cessation work of the state tobacco agency.

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