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Media Statement

For Immediate Release: April 30, 2010
Contact: Division of News & Electronic Media, Office of Communication
(404) 639-3286

Statement by Dana Shelton, MPH, Acting Director, Office on Smoking & Health, CDC Regarding the 20th Anniversary of California’s Tobacco Control Program

Congratulations to the California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP) in celebration of their 20th anniversary this April.

Established in October of 1989 after the Tobacco Tax and Health Promotion Act was signed into law, CTCP helped position California as a pioneer in U.S. tobacco control efforts. It was the first state to implement a comprehensive tobacco control program; it demonstrated how effective, hard hitting, multiple-language media campaigns can reach diverse populations; and it became a model for establishing local ordinances that restrict smoking in places such as restaurants and bars.

CTCP has also shown how sustained funding can result in significant cost savings. In its first 15 years of funding, California experienced a 50:1 return on investment—the $1.8 billion dedicated to the program resulted in $86 billion in savings in health care costs.

California has reaped the benefits of CTCP’s trailblazing efforts over the past 20 years:

  • Adult smoking rates in the state have dropped 42% and overall cigarette consumption (per person) has decreased by 67% since the inception of CTCP.
  • In 2008, California had one of the lowest smoking prevalence rates in the nation—an estimated 14% of adults in California smoke compared with the national average of 20.6%.
  • Lung cancer rates have declined faster in California than in any other state and have dropped nearly four times faster than the U.S. rate.

CTCP faces considerable challenges, yet continues to be the vanguard in tobacco control. State funding for tobacco control in California has decreased in recent years. California also has not raised its cigarette excise tax since 1998 and, with a rate of $.87 per pack, trails behind the national average of $1.34. Still, CTCP advances tobacco control efforts into groundbreaking areas such as smoke-free multiunit housing and tobacco-free pharmacies.

A primary focus of CTCP has been to change the social norms surrounding tobacco use. Simply put, CTCP labors to make tobacco use “less desirable, less acceptable, and less accessible.” CTCP has important work ahead—millions of Californians still use tobacco, and California does not yet have a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law that provides adequate protection against secondhand smoke exposure in public places—but they also have much to celebrate for their 20 years of service. CTCP efforts have saved millions of lives and billions of dollars.


California Department of Public Health. California Tobacco Control Update: 20 Years of Tobacco Control in California. Sacramento (CA): California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program; 2009. Available at

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Control State Highlights 2010. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2010. Available at

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette Smoking Among Adults and Trends in Smoking Cessation—United States, 2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2009;58 (44):1227–32. Available at


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