Tobacco Public Health Program
What is a Tobacco Health Program
All states have developed tobacco prevention and control programs to help educate the public to the dangers of tobacco use. They are designed to reduce the prevalence and consumption of tobacco use.
The Program's primary goals are to: prevent youth in the community from beginning to use tobacco; eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke; promote quitting tobacco among users; and prioritize efforts to reach those most affected by tobacco.
How long did it take you to quit smoking?
Utah's Tobacco Public Health
Tobacco use is one of the top preventable cause of illness, disability and death worldwide. The use of tobacco is known to cause cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, premature birth, low birth weight and infant death. The tobacco users are not the only population affected; secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and lung cancer in non-smokers. In addition, secondhand smoke also causes a number of health problems in children and infants including severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden death (US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2004). In 2000, more than 1 in every 10 cardiovascular deaths in the world were due to tobacco use (Ezzati, Henley, Thun, & Lopez, 2005). Reducing tobacco use can improve the health and quality of life for people of all ages while also reducing health care costs. In the United States, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke are the cause of 1 in 5 deaths each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Through State ran smoking cessation programs many states have been able to improve the health of their population.
Utah has some of the lowest smoking rates in the United States. Despite this fact, Tobacco use remains a serious public health concern that the states department of health is actively working to achieve lower numbers. Smoking prevalence in adults is the lowest of all the states at 11.8% with the median rate of all the states being at 21.2 percent (CDC, 2012). Global adult cigarette smoking prevalence is estimated to be 23.7% (Mendez, Alshanqeety, & Warner, 2013). Smoking prevalence for high school students in Utah is 5.9% with the national median rate at 18.1 percent. Utah rates 14th among the states in the rate of smokeless tobacco users. Utah has a well-built smoke free law that provides protection against exposure to secondhand smoke in workplaces and public places. The law prevents local communities within the state from enacting their own smoke free restrictions and prevents tobacco industry promotions, such as sampling and displaying of tobacco products in commercial establishments and requires all establishments selling tobacco products over the counter and by vending machine to be licensed. The Medicaid program in Utah provides full coverage for tobacco dependence treatment; providing coverage for both bupropion and varenicline prescriptions to aid in smoking cessation. The policy also provides coverage for telephone counseling and for group and individual counseling for pregnant women (CDC, 2012). The telephone counseling Utah provides encompasses three separate help lines. The Utah Tobacco Quit Line is a statewide, toll-free telephone based resource available to everyone in Utah that would like support for quitting tobacco. This help extends to relatives or friends that to receive assistance in how to help someone quit tobacco. This service provides screening, counseling, support materials and referral to additional cessation assistance. The Utah QuitNet is a state-of-the-art quit smoking support program, which combines personalized information with peer and expert support. The site tracks each their progress, makes suggestions about next steps and give daily tips via email. The Tobacco Free Resource Line is a statewide, toll-free telephone based resource available to anyone seeking information about tobacco. This service provides information about health effects, secondhand smoke, statistics, tobacco laws, teaching materials, tobacco cessation self-help materials and other information ("Utah Tobacco Directory," 2013). Through these programs, Utah has been able to reduce tobacco use in the population. In comparison, another state, Alabama and the country of Turkey have higher rates of tobacco use.
In Alabama, 22.1% of the adult population are tobacco users, ranking them 42nd among the states. Alabama does not have a statewide smoke-free law that provides adequate protection against exposure to secondhand smoke in public places. Another problem Alabama has is that their Medicaid program does not cover any of the tobacco dependence treatments recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service's Clinical Practice Guideline. Alabama requires all establishments selling tobacco products over the counter and by vending machine to be licensed but they allow local industry promotions, sampling and display of tobacco products in commercial establishments (CDC, 2012). There are many factors that can account for the difference in smoking rates between Utah and Alabama. Looking at the similarities in the populations of the two states, results by the United States Census Bureau in 2010 found that the median income in Alabama was $42,934 compared to $57,783 in Utah. The median age in both states is relatively low with Utah at 29.2 years and Alabama at 37.9 years. The percentage of minorities in Alabama is at 30.2 percent while Utah is at 13.9 percent (CDC, 2012). When it comes to religion; both states rank as highly religious according to the latest Gallup Poll. Another important area to look at is the money spent for funding tobacco control and education. Alabama ranked low at 44th among the states, only at 3.7 percent of the CDC recommended level. Utah is at 35.6 percent of the recommended level and ranks 15th among the states (CDC, 2012). The differences of the populations can account for some of increased rate of tobacco use but other factors such as the money spent for tobacco education, Medicare coverage for treatment and laws to help limit secondhand smoke exposure would have a positive impact on the smoking rates in Alabama.
When compared to a population like Turkey there are many more population differences to factor in. The percentage of current tobacco smokers in Turkey is higher than Utah and Alabama at 31.2 Percent of which 42.4 percent where not interested in quitting smoking (Global Tobacco Surveillance System, Ministry of Health Turkey, 2008). Along with the cultural and geographic differences, government programs in this region are severely lacking. There is little to no protection from secondhand smoke in public places and cigarette samples are given out frequently. With little regulation and reduction in tobacco use in other parts of the world, tobacco companies are marketing aggressively in countries like Turkey.
Research has identified effective strategies that will contribute to reduced tobacco use rates. The extent of the global tobacco pandemic would be greatly reduced if these evidence based tobacco control policies were applied throughout the world (Mendez et al., 2013). This would have a significant positive impact on the health of the public and reduce health care costs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Tobacco Control State Highlights 2012. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/state_data/state_highlights/2012/index.htm
Ezzati, M., Henley, S., Thun, M., & Lopez, A. (2005). Role of smoking in global and regional cardiovascular mortality. Circulation, 112(4), 489-497.
Global Tobacco Surveillance System, Ministry of Health Turkey. (2008). Global adult tobacco survey. Fact sheet turkey. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/tobacco/surveillance/en_tfi_gats_turkey_factsheet_2009.pdf
Mendez, D., Alshanqeety, O., & Warner, K. (2013). The potential impact of smoking control policies on future global smoking trends. Tobacco Control, 22(1), 46-51. http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050147
US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. (2004). The health consequences of smoking: A report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2004/index.htm
Utah tobacco cessation resource directory. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.tobaccofreeutah.org/ut_tob_res_dir-statewide.html