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CDPHP Collaborative News: Spotlight on Smoking Cessation

Spotlight on

Smoking Cessation

Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in Alaska and the United States, yet nearly 1 in every 5 U.S. adults (about 43.8 million Americans) still smoke cigarettes. About 600 Alaskan deaths and nearly 400,000 U.S. deaths every year result from direct tobacco use. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the death toll by nearly 50,000.[1]

More Alaskans die each year from tobacco use than from suicide, motor vehicle crashes, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, homicide, HIV/AIDS and influenza combined.[2] In 2011, tobacco use cost Alaska $327 million in direct medical expenditures and an additional $236 million in lost productivity due to tobacco-related deaths.[2]

In an effort to reduce smoking rates, November has been declared National Smoking Cessation Month as well as Lung Cancer Awareness Month. November 21 is the Great American Smokeout. Since 1976, the American Cancer Society has promoted the Smokeout as a day for people to quit, or make a plan to quit, smoking.

Nearly 23% of Alaskans are smokers – a drop of 18% since 1996. The number of cigarettes purchased in Alaska (cigarettes sold per Alaska adult) declined 55% during the same time period.[2] While substantial reductions like this are encouraging, gender, race, and socioeconomic disparities still exist. More men smoke (24%) than women (21%). Among non-Alaska Native adults, 2 in 5 (38%) of lower socioeconomic status (SES) smoke, compared to only 15% of those of higher SES. About 1 in 3 (36%) Alaska Native adults smoke compared to 1 in 5 (20%) non-Alaska Native adults.[3]

For more than 10 years, the State of Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Program has worked with a variety of partners to reduce the rate of tobacco use in our state. Great efforts have been made to stop kids from starting to smoke in the first place because studies show that 99% of regular tobacco users start using by the age of 26. These efforts are working. Results from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) show that smoking among Alaska high school students has declined 40 percent, from 17.8 percent in 2007 to only 10.6 percent in 2013.[4]

This month, four Alaskan colleges (Alaska Job Corps, Ilisagvik College, University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Christian College) are joining the “Fresh Air Campus Challenge” – a campaign sponsored by partners like the American Heart and Lung associations, American Cancer Society, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The campaign encourages all college campuses in the Pacific Northwest to develop and implement smoke and/or tobacco-free campus policies by 2016. As a first step in implementing these tobacco-free policies, a one-day event called “1 Day Stand” calls for all college campuses in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to implement a tobacco-free policy on November 21 during the Great American Smokeout.

1.      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2012;61(44):889–94 

2.      Alaska Tobacco Facts – 2013 Update.

3.      2010 Alaska BRFSS standard and supplemental surveys.

4.      2013 Alaska YRBS Survey Results.

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