November 21, 2007

Report by Case Western Reserve University researchers shows progress in Ohio's efforts to curb tobacco use

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The Center for Health Promotion Research's Tobacco Key Indicators Report says Ohio's youth and adults are getting the message

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."

Important findings from the current report include:
Preventing Initiation of Tobacco Use by Young People
  • The majority of Ohio's youth (82 percent of high school students and 73 percent of middle school students) are hearing anti-tobacco messages at school and in the media, including TV commercials, on the Internet and the radio.
  • Ohioans support policies to limit youth access to tobacco, including policies requiring retailer licensure to sell tobacco, limiting youth access to tobacco and policies for tobacco-free campuses, which includes outdoor sports and entertainment venues.
  • Retailer compliance with policies limiting youth access to tobacco is growing and the number of Ohio youth who report buying cigarettes from a retailer is decreasing.
  • Youth tobacco users in Ohio continue to access tobacco from social sources by borrowing tobacco products from someone else or giving someone else money to buy the products for them. This avenue provides a way for the youth to bypass the policies on restricting tobacco sales to minors.
  • The proportion of youth who have never tried cigarettes continues to increase; however, a quarter of these youth are still susceptible to smoking in the future based on intentions to smoke and exposure to tobacco use by others.
Eliminating Non-Smokers' Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
  • Over 70 percent of Ohio youth and 93 percent of adults recognize the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. In addition the vast majority of adults in Ohio believe secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems in children and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Ohioans strongly support policies that reduce secondhand smoke exposure. This is evident in the passage and implementation of Ohio's new smoke-free law, enacted in December 2006 which among other things prohibits smoking in public places and places of employment.
  • Despite these findings, many Ohio children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their home and cars, where they have little control over their environment.
Promoting Quitting Among Adults and Young People
  • Over half of Ohio youth and adults want to quit smoking cigarettes and have made at least one attempt to quit during the past 12 months.
  • Prevalence rates of cigarette smoking by youth and adults have been on the decline in Ohio with adult smoking rates dropping from 27.6 percent in 2001 to 22.4 percent in 2006, outpacing the national decline.
  • The decline in cigarette smoking is further supported by the per capita consumption data, showing a steep decrease in per capita consumption since 1983. The sharpest decline occurred between 2005 and 2006 and may be related to the increase in the Ohio excise tax from 55 cents to $1.25 in January 2005.

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.

For more information about the Ohio Tobacco Key Indicators Report, visit OTREC online, or send e-mail to ORTEC.

For more information, contact Laura Massie, 216-368-4442.

Posted by: Marsha Bragg, November 21, 2007 09:10 AM | News Topics: Environment, Healthcare, Provost Initiatives, Research, School of Medicine

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