We continue to make strides to get Arizonans to Kick the Habit. We got the good news this week that Arizona’s adult smoking rate dropped 2 more percentage points in the last year… going from 19% 2011 to 17% today. The data come from this year’s CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System… and it translates into 72,000 fewer AZ smokers and $432M less in total lifetime health-care costs.
Even more dramatic is the youth rate, which fell from 17% to 14%. We’ve had a 30% drop in our AZ youth smoking rate over the last 4 years meaning that there are 110,000 fewer kids smokers today than four years ago. A 2009 U of A report on the value of prevention found that preventing one kid from starting to smoke saves the state on average $6,000 over that smoker’s lifetime.
It’s no coincidence that the historic drop began in 2009. After years of stagnant youth prevention rates our Tobacco & Chronic Disease prevention team rebooted their tobacco control efforts in 2008. On the adult side, we developed a new strategic plan to improve the effectiveness of our smoking cessation resources via the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline. A simple cost-effective campaign was created in 2010 that utilized ADHS staff as extras in their “Call Center” campaign, and it has been very successful. The ASHLine also launched Project Quit… which is our initiative designed to showcase the quit process.
On the kids side, we launched our anti-tobacco youth coalition effort, Students Taking a New Direction. Better known as STAND, it empowers teens to make positive changes in their community. With assistance from Tucson based Pima Prevention Partnership, STAND has grown into over twenty collations spread throughout Arizona working on initiatives such as ordinances for smoke-free parks, smoke-free multi-unit housing and expanding smoke-free zones.