The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 5, 2013

Culture of tobacco: Prevention, education key to curtail cigarette smoking


Tobacco road

Why does Oklahoma continue to be ranked 47th nationally in smoking cessation? With all these programs, shouldn’t there be more results?

“I think it has a lot to do with our culture, education and even tradition,” said Angie Luthye, program coordinator for Garfield County Tobacco Free Coalition. “Tobacco usage differs depending on what part of the country you are in. There are educational opportunities and resources that are available to help with cessation. Our helpline (800-QUITNOW) is a great resource, and is being used by Garfield County residents who wish to quit. We have a long way to go to see our usage rates drop even more, but more and more resources are being provided to Garfield County residents who wish to quit.”

Prevention efforts, said the CDC, must focus on both adolescents and young adults. Among adults who become daily smokers, 88 percent of first use of cigarettes occurs by 18, and 99 percent of first use by 26 years of age.

However, there have been some declines in youth tobacco use in Garfield County. The most recent statistics available cite a behavioral study from 2010. That report showed a 19.3 percent drop in the number of 10th-graders who used tobacco. That is down from the 2006 number of 22 percent, said Maggie Jackson, health educator for Garfield County Health Department. Among 12th-graders, there was a slight increase from 2006. Use in 2008 was very high, then dropped down again in the 2010 study, Jackson said.

“The number of adults who smoke has gone down 3 percent in the last four years, and there is a slight decrease in incidents of lung cancer.”

Garfield County has a lower rate than some other counties in the state, but is not the lowest. Garfield County’s smoking rate was 23.7 percent in 2011, according to a Health Department report.

The Health Department is targeting a number of programs toward tobacco use. One of the biggest tobacco cessation programs to aid in stopping tobacco use is the National Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. The trust was established as a result of lawsuits against tobacco companies, and the money won in lawsuits goes toward tobacco education and tobacco-use prevention programs.

“Nicotine is highly addictive,” Luthye said. “One in three people who try tobacco become addicted, and one in three that become addicted die from smoking-related causes.”

She said most people start smoking before they turn 18, and the targeting of youth by the tobacco industry has been very successful.

Garfield County Tobacco Free Coalition advocates for a tobacco-free lifestyle. The organization helps get clean air ordinances passed, and also works with youth through the Students Working Against Tobacco, SWAT program.

“SWAT kids are not against the smoker, but work against the practices of the tobacco industry, and work to expose those,” Luthye said.

They also advocate for clean indoor air ordinances, and are attempting to convince communities to mirror state law regarding indoor tobacco use, she said.

“SWAT programs are going great. As far as communities mirroring state law, we’ve heard from several and they are doing that voluntarily,” Luthye said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

Jackson said the SWAT group sponsors periodic events to increase awareness, promotes changing social norms and attempts to convince young people using tobacco it’s “not cool.”SWAT is active in the public schools, Jackson said.

Garfield County Tobacco Free Coalition is part of a network, including Garfield County Health Department, that promotes smoking cessation. The coalition periodically will call and counsel individuals through the quitting process, and tell them where they can find programs to help them quit. There also are a number of private smoking cessation classes in the Enid area.

“Support is needed. We encourage physicians to refer their patients to the quit line also,” Jackson said.

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