Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Colorado smoking rates decline, but are still high among certain groups

While cigarette smoking continues to decline in Colorado, the addiction to tobacco continues to plague certain groups more than others, according to the 2012 Attitudes and Behaviors Survey on Health recently released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“While we have made progress in reducing this grave public health threat, too many Coloradans still smoke," said Dr. Larry Wolk, health department executive director and chief medical officer. "We will continue to focus on reaching those populations most burdened by tobacco addiction and providing help for all Coloradans who want to quit smoking."

The report shows that cigarette smoking in Colorado fell from 19.1 percent in 2008 to 17.2 percent in 2012. It also shows a decrease in the percentage of daily smokers and the number of cigarettes smoked. More Coloradans are opting for smoke-free homes and cars as well, though low-income families are less likely to have smoke-free home rules.

Despite the decline in tobacco use, certain groups continue to smoke at a higher rate. Research shows that tobacco use is influenced by cultural and social factors, as well as tobacco industry advertising targeting certain communities. According to this report, the largest disparities in tobacco use in Colorado include:

  • Low income: Smoking prevalence was nearly three times as high among people with low socioeconomic status (27.0 percent) as among the rest of the population (9.4 percent).
  • Young adults: Smoking prevalence remained elevated among nonstudent young adults aged 18-24 (31.9 percent) while it declined among student young adults (12.3 percent).
  • Latinos: Smoking prevalence was higher among Latino adults who primarily speak English (21.7 percent) than among White adults (16.7 percent).
  • African Americans: Smoking prevalence was higher among African American adults (23.4 percent) than among White adults (16.7 percent).
  • LGB: Smoking prevalence was nearly twice as high among lesbian, gay or bisexual Coloradans (33.4 percent) as among heterosexuals (17.1 percent).

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Colorado, killing more than 4,400 Coloradans and costing the state nearly $2 billion in health care and more than $1 billion in lost productivity each year.

The Attitudes and Behaviors Survey on Health is a statewide survey conducted every three to four years, to learn about the overall health of adults across Colorado. The most recent report represents data provided by roughly 15,000 adults (aged 18+) who participated in a randomly selected phone survey. This survey is funded through Colorado Amendment 35.

Coloradans who want to quit can call 1-800-QUIT NOW or find additional resources, including a free Tobacco Quit and Save mobile app, at tobaccofreeco.org.

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