Extinguishing the Tobacco Epidemic in California
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 California high school youth, 5.4% reported currently smoking cigarettes.
Was received from CDC for tobacco prevention and control activities in FY 2019
Secondhand smoke causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults; in addition, it increases risks for sudden infant death syndrome, middle-ear disease, respiratory symptoms, and slows lung growth in children. In 2016, California enacted multiple tobacco control laws as part of a special legislative session in the state. The new laws: closed loopholes in the state’s smoke-free law making hotel lobbies, small businesses, and break rooms smoke-free; defined e-cigarettes as a tobacco product; prohibited vaping wherever smoking is also not allowed; required all K-12 public schools to be tobacco free; raised tobacco retail licensure fees; and increased the legal age of sale of tobacco from 18 to 21. These policies will further protect youth and adults in California from secondhand smoke exposure and e-cigarette vapor in public places. Increasing the age of sales for tobacco to 21 and requiring all public schools to be tobacco-free will protect youth from exposure to these products and further change social norms in California about the acceptability of smoking. The Institute of Medicine projects that if the age of sale were raised now to 21 nationwide, then “there would be approximately 223,000 fewer premature deaths, 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer, and 4.2 million fewer years of life lost for those born between 2000 and 2019.
California 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 California 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 California state quitline increased by an average 165% during the 2019 Tips® campaign. The California state quitline received a total of 9,163 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: