The first-ever Ohio Tobacco Key Indicators Report completed recently by the Ohio Tobacco Research and Evaluation Center (OTREC) shows a steady decline in the prevalence of cigarette smoking among Ohio adults and youth. The OTREC is part of Case Western Reserve University's Center for Health Promotion Research in the School of Medicine. The report shows that since 2000, adult smoking rates dropped from 27.6 percent in 2001 to 22.4 percent in 2006. The rate outpaces the national decline.
The report, using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Key Outcome Indicators for Evaluating Comprehensive Tobacco Control programs as a guide, assesses the progression of tobacco control efforts in Ohio, focusing on three areas: preventing initiation of tobacco use by young people; eliminating non-smokers' exposure to secondhand smoke; and promoting quitting among adults and young people.
Several factors have contributed to the decline in the prevalence of cigarette smoking. Anti-tobacco media campaigns have influenced Ohio youth with over 80 percent reporting having heard anti-tobacco messages during the past year. Policies that prevent youth access to tobacco also played a role. More than 80 percent of Ohioans strongly supported policies that restrict stores from selling tobacco to youth and require retail licensure to sell tobacco. Eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke was also a component as evidenced by the passing of Issue 5 in November 2006. The majority of Ohio voters (58.5 percent) supported the law that restricts smoking in all public places and places of employment.
Finally, promoting quitting among adults and young people was also a contributing factor. In 2006, 51 percent of Ohio adults, 66 percent of middle school students and 57 percent of high school students who currently smoked attempted to quit smoking within the past 12 months. Since 2000, the proportion of Ohio youth who smoked their first cigarette before age 13 -- among both middle school and high school students -- has been in decline.
"Those who have contributed to tobacco control in Ohio over the past years should be very encouraged by the results of this initial key indicators report," said Erika S. Trapl, project director of OTREC and associate director of the Center for Health Promotion Research at the School of Medicine. "As evidenced by the successes in Ohio described within the report, a multifaceted and comprehensive approach to tobacco control has contributed to the recent declines in tobacco use prevalence among Ohio youth and adults."
Beyond the evident need for continued efforts in tobacco control, the researchers say there is evidence these efforts represent a good investment for the state of Ohio. The report says that the American Legacy Foundation and other organizations suggest that for every dollar spent on tobacco control activities, the state saves three dollars in direct and indirect costs. Moreover, there are indications that tobacco control efforts are producing the intended effects. For example, adult smoking rates in Ohio have dropped from 27.6 percent in 2001 to 22.4 percent in 2006, outpacing the national decline.
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