Extinguishing the Tobacco Epidemic in Washington D.C.
Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States, despite a significant decline in the number of people who smoke. Over 16 million Americans have at least one disease caused by smoking. This amounts to $170 billion in direct medical costs that could be saved every year if we could prevent youth from starting to smoke and help every person who smokes to quit.
In 2017, 19.5% of U.S. high school youth reported currently using any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. Among U.S. high school youth, 8.8% reported currently smoking cigarettes.
Was received from CDC for tobacco prevention and control activities in FY 2019
To help raise awareness and provide cessation support to all residents, the District of Columbia held its second annual “DC Calls It Quits” awareness week. The goal of the awareness week was to inspire, equip, and support DC residents to quit smoking. This District-wide effort united more than 40 community and health organizations, businesses, and public agencies. During this week, local groups partnered to highlight the importance of quitting smoking, as well as the available resources to help DC residents quit for good. There were twelve unique “DC Calls it Quits” events beginning with a press conference to promote smoking cessation as a critical element in protecting the health of District residents. The week ended with a highly successful Tobacco Control Summit hosted by the DC Tobacco-Free Coalition.
Washington D.C. is one of 50 states plus DC that receives funding and technical support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support comprehensive tobacco control efforts and quitlines. The Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) is the lead federal agency for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control. For decades, OSH has led public health efforts to prevent young people from using tobacco and to help all tobacco users to quit.
Despite significant progress, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the US. The good news is that 7 out of 10 smokers want to quit smoking. That is why since 2012 CDC has been educating the public about the consequences of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke and encouraging smokers to quit through a federally funded, national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers®. The campaign features former smokers suffering from the real consequences of smoking.
The Tips® campaign connects smokers with resources to help them quit, including a quitline number (1-800-QUIT-NOW) which routes callers to their state quitline. The Washington D.C. quitline provides free cessation services, including counseling and medication. These services are effective in improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.
“I was thinking about relapsing today and the new commercials came on. It changed my mind real fast. You don’t understand the power of these commercials until you have made the decision to quit. Terrie Hall makes me cry every time . . . that could easily be me.”
–Justin: January 2016
Incoming calls to the Washington D.C. state quitline increased by an average 66% during the 2019 Tips® campaign. The Washington D.C. state quitline received a total of 2,178 calls from April 23rd – October 8th during the 2019 Tips® campaign.
Tobacco prevention and control activities are a public health “best buy.” Evidence-based, statewide tobacco control programs that are comprehensive, sustained, and accountable have been shown to reduce the number of people who smoke, as well as tobacco-related diseases and deaths. For every dollar spent on tobacco prevention, states can reduce tobacco-related health care expenditures and hospitalizations by up to $55. The longer and more states invest, the larger the reductions in youth and adult smoking. A comprehensive statewide tobacco control program includes efforts to: