Oklahoma State Department of Health reports record low number of smokers, significant decrease

OKLAHOMA CITY - The number of smokers in Oklahoma is at a record low, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.  The state now ranks 39th in the nation for adult smokers, an improvement from last year's ranking of 47th.

According to the state health department, the smoking percentage dropped from 26.1 percent in 2011 to 23.3 percent in 2012.

"This is another great milestone in our efforts to reduce the negative health effects of tobacco in our state," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. "While it is fantastic to see Oklahoma out of the bottom ten states for smoking rates, we still have work to do to reduce the devastating health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke."

Smoking is Oklahoma's leading preventable cause of death, killing more Oklahomans than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, suicides, murders and illegal drugs combined.

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Data released by the health department shows there were around 75,000 fewer adult smokers in 2012 than 2011 and the percent of Oklahomans who smoke every day decreased from 19.9 percent in 2011 to 17 percent in 2012.

Data also shows the percent of people who have never smoked increased from 49.2 percent in 2011 to 52.4 percent in 2012 -- an increase of about 100,000 people who have never smoked.

According to the health department, the purchase of cigarettes in Oklahoma has also decreased with more than 14 million fewer cigarette tax stamps sold by the Oklahoma Tax Commission -- a 5.2 percent drop in cigarette packs sold. In the past decade, the number of cigarette tax stamps sold has decreased by 100 million overall.

"The decreases in our smoking rate and cigarette sales will help create a healthier Oklahoma for the next generation," said Cline.

Last year, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline received approximately 34,000 calls from Oklahomans interested in quitting tobacco. For information on quitting tobacco, call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or register online at www.okhelpline.com .

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