Smoking in Oklahoma has decreased

Adult smoking in Oklahoma has decreased to 19.6 percent in the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) report, reaching an all-time low.

The lower rate means the number of adult smokers dropped by almost 72,000 between 2015 and 2016 alone. That decrease from 22.1 percent has moved Oklahoma’s ranking to 36th among the 50 states, an improvement of nine spots over the previous year. Oklahoma’s smoking rate among adults is still above the national average of 17.1 percent.

“This is great news and reflects the hard work of individuals, businesses and communities across the state. Each lowered percentage point represents lives saved from the people we know, and people we care about and love,” said Dr. Terry Cline, Secretary of Health and Human Services and Commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), “But even as we celebrate this milestone we know our tobacco rates are still well above the national average and our work must continue. We know that more than 88,000 people alive in Oklahoma today will die prematurely from smoking. I am not okay with that and I believe most Oklahomans agree we deserve better.”

Survey data shows the rates dropped in all age groups, but 25 – 34 year olds remain the group with the highest percentage of smokers at 25.1 percent, followed by 45-54 year olds at 23.6 percent. The new data also indicates a decrease in e-cigarette use as well, from 7.3 percent to 6.7 percent, but still two percent above the national average.

“The public supports implementing a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase and reducing exposure to smoke in indoor public places,” Cline claimed. “Raising the price of cigarettes that amount will prevent 16,700 lives from ending prematurely due to smoking-related illnesses and save $1.2 billion in long term healthcare costs. Now that is a common sense, no cost solution to improve our health and save lives.”

The BRFSS report also shows that obesity rates among adults in Oklahoma dropped for the first time since 2011. Oklahoma’s obesity rate dropped by more than one percentage point, bucking a national trend that showed a slight uptick in overall adult obesity. The decrease in Oklahoma is encouraging, but still leaves the state almost three percent higher than the national average.

Tobacco control and prevention efforts in the state and reduction of obesity are two of the flagship issues outlined in the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan 2020 (OHIP2020) developed in collaboration with public and private sector agencies and organizations.