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Tobacco Control Saves Lives and Money

Tobacco Control State Highlights 2010 concludes that if all states supported and used a combination of proven strategies—hard-hitting education and media campaigns, smoke-free air laws, and higher cigarette prices—the nation's adult smoking rate, which has stalled at around 20 percent, would begin to decline and smoking-related diseases, deaths, and health care costs would be substantially reduced.

This report provides tobacco control programs in the 50 states and the District of Columbia with state-specific data about the high-impact strategies they are or could be implementing. The report also provides state-specific data intended to—

  • Highlight how some states are making great strides in reducing smoking rates using evidence-based strategies while also showing that more work needs to be done in other states;
  • Enable readers to see how their own states perform; and
  • Help policymakers with decision making.

Photo: A group of young men and women playing outside.Smoking costs Americans in dollars and lives

All Americans—smokers and nonsmokers—pay the price for smoking. Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing 443,000—or nearly 1 of every 5—deaths annually. These include 46,000 heart attack deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Smoking is also a major contributor to many chronic diseases that are driving up the nation's health care costs. Each year, diseases caused by cigarette smoking result in $96 billion in health care costs, much of which is paid by taxpayers through publicly-funded health programs.

There are proven interventions

Some states have greatly improved the health of their citizens by reducing smoking rates, thereby decreasing smoking-related diseases, deaths, and health care costs. It is important to maintain the momentum these states have started and build on their successes to make tobacco less affordable, prevent youth from starting to smoke, protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, and ultimately save lives.

Photo: A family walking on the beach.Everyone plays a role

We all have a role to play in ushering in a tobacco-free future for our nation. We must continue the tremendous momentum that so many states have started and relentlessly act on what we know works.

While many states have made progress, in the past year, 34 states and the District of Columbia cut funding for tobacco prevention programs. In 2009, only one state (North Dakota) fully funded tobacco control at the level recommended by CDC.

Even in economically challenging times, states can make a significant difference in public health by employing high-impact, cost-effective tobacco control and prevention strategies to:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies;
  • Protect people from tobacco smoke;
  • Offer people help to quit tobacco use;
  • Warn about the dangers of tobacco;
  • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship; and
  • Raise taxes on tobacco.

The health, financial, and quality-of-life benefits that flow from effective tobacco control programs are undeniable. Investment in these programs today results in significant savings in the future. Some states already have made significant progress in tobacco control; however, it's critical that all states take action now.

The overwhelming human and financial toll on our nation caused by smoking can be stopped. By applying what works, we can end this deadly tobacco epidemic.

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: April 22, 2010 (archived document)
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs