Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.
KINGMAN – About 200,000 Arizona adults have kicked the nasty habit of smoking cigarettes over the last five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC’s 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System shows that only 14 percent of Arizona adults habitually light up, compared with 19 percent in 2011.
It’s the lowest smoking rate in Arizona history and puts the state behind only California and Utah for the nation’s lowest rate.
Mohave County remains well above the state and national average at 22 percent, said Susan Williams, director of tobacco use and chronic disease prevention for Mohave County Department of Public Health.
However, it’s down from about 33 percent in the late 1990s when the county started tracking tobacco use, Williams noted.
“We’re seeing more youths not smoking, but they’re picking up e-cigarettes,” she said Thursday.
Smoking remains a leading cause of death in the United States, and health officials have found that secondhand smoke is also harmful to others who don’t smoke, especially children.
Quitting tobacco is the healthiest choice anyone can make to improve their health, Williams said. It will lower their risk of lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems and strokes, which are regarded as a drag on the nation’s health system.
The Surgeon General stated that tobacco is not only linked to lung cancer but to cancer of all body organs, Williams added. Recent research also shows smoking affects the DNA methylation process, which regulates genes.
Quitting smoking not only improves an individual’s health, it also results in positive economic benefits, including increased workplace productivity, reduced medical costs and fewer premature deaths.
Several studies show that the true cost of smoking goes beyond the price of a pack of cigarettes. It extends to lost earnings, higher medical expenses and lower property values.
An estimated 42.1 million U.S. adults (16.8 percent) currently smoke cigarettes, the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths a year, according to CDC.
Williams says there are several health department programs to help people quit smoking, including a telephone hotline (1-888-454-4924) and individual counseling.
“Arizona cares about its citizens and we passed a tobacco tax in 1994, so we have some revenue to help smokers quit,” she said.
Mohave County Tobacco Use Prevention Program provides free tobacco education, prevention and smoking cessation services that are available to schools, businesses, social and civic groups and community members.
Free services offered through the county include:
• Smoke Free Mommy, a pregnancy and post-partum coaching and support group.
• Telephone coaching.
• Tobacco policy development.
• Smoke-free worksite program.
• Community chronic disease prevention and education program.
• Youth leadership promotion and collaboration.
Williams said the county has been successful in spreading its anti-tobacco message throughout each high school in Mohave County.
“Here in Kingman, we see these youths successfully change policy with tobacco-free parks and ball fields. Kingman was the first city to pass a law for no smoking in vehicles with children under 18,” she said.