The Great American Smokeout
Monday, November 12, 2018
Posted by: Kanaka Sathasivan
By: Ellen Martin, PhD, RN, CPHQ
Director of Practice, Texas Nurses Association
For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society has designated the third Thursday in November as the Great American Smokeout, an initiative to raise awareness about smoking-related health effects, challenge smokers to quit, and raise to awareness of smoking cessation resources.
Although smoking rates have dropped significantly in the past 50 years, from 42 percent in 1965 to 17 percent in 2016, smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. About 38 million Americans currently smoke and more than 16 million live with a smoking-related health condition. About one in five deaths are attributable to smoking.
Some groups of Americans suffer disproportionately from smoking-related conditions such as those who have less education, who live below the poverty level, or who suffer from serious psychological distress, as well as certain racial and ethnic groups and the LGBTQ community.
The percentage of Texans who smoke is slightly lower (14.8 percent in 2016) than the national average. The Department of State Health Services Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch focuses on reducing the toll of tobacco on the health, safety and well-being of Texans. Specific goals of this branch are to:
- Keep young Texans from ever starting tobacco use.
- Support enforcement of tobacco laws.
- Increase the number of Texans who quit smoking and stay smoke free.
- Eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Reduce tobacco use among high-risk populations.
- Develop and maintain statewide capacity to support all of the above.
The American Lung Association "State of Tobacco Control" report gives Texas a grade of “F” on prevention program funding, smoke-free air, tobacco taxes, access to tobacco cessation treatment, and Tobacco 21 laws. And Texas ranks 28th in the U.S. for its cigarette excise tax of $1.41 per pack compared to the national average of $1.73.
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