Smoking is one of the most significant health problems in the United States. Smoking-related illness takes more lives each year than almost any other factor outside of age. Smoking costs us more than 100 billion dollars annually as an already overburdened health system struggles to find an answer to a disease that affects not only smokers but nonsmokers as well. Thankfully we as a nation are becoming more aware of the real cost of smoking and several states have taken aggressive steps to get people to stop smoking. While each state has its own unique ways of confronting the problem of smoking, the following list are those that seem to be having the most success in getting people to give up the habit for good.
Arizona has seen its population increase in leaps and bounds over the last couple of decades as its warm climate attracts a growing number of retired people. Along with this growing (and aging) population comes an increase in medical costs. As the costs of taking care of retired citizens increases Arizona has been feeling the pinch that is created from the additional cost of smoking-related illness on their health care system. In order to combat the effects of smoking Arizona has enacted a lot of regulations about public smoking and currently has several bills making its way through their government to further those aims. Arizona also has started to work on smoking prevention in middle school aged children by funneling some funds toward tobacco education. While Arizona seems to be willing to educate younger children about the dangers of smoking they seem to lose tenacity among those of high school age as a whopping two out of ten high school students are tobacco users.
The biggest problem facing California is its rapidly increasing population and age, these factors combined with a financial crisis that has lasted nearly a decade means that California needs to find a way to lower costs. With smoking having an economic cost of over eighteen billion dollars the state of California realizes that it needs to do something in order to curtail the effect smoking has on its economy and the health of its citizens. At the moment California only has an adult smoking population of a little over twelve percent and that is a positive sign. The main thing holding California back, is that while it taxes tobacco products heavily, very little of this income actually goes toward helping those who smoke.
At one time Iowa was one of the most aggressive states in funding efforts to stop tobacco use among its residents, however over the last few years this funding has steadily declined and as a result it appears that the rate of smoking is again on the rise. While it hasn’t increased funding, Iowa is looking at ways to increase the effectiveness of programs that are still in place to help people quit and it recently has given special funds to the anti-smoking portion of its department of health.
Oregon has a very high smoking rate but is doing its best to combat this growing problem with a combination of using taxes on tobacco products to fund public actions as well as enacting policies to stop public smoking. What sets Oregon apart is that it is heavily concentrating on smoking cessation and working to get as many people to quit as possible. This will not be an easy battle for the state and right now they are still trying to find out what works best. However they are definitely heading in the right direction and recent figures show that their efforts is having an effect as the smoking rate is slowly declining.
6. Rhode Island
Rhode Island may be one of the smallest states in the union but the cost of smoking to their economy exceeds eight hundred million dollars annually and this is not a state that can afford that for very long. With an increasing population as people move there from the surrounding areas of New England Rhode Island cannot sit idly and do nothing about the growing cost of smoking. Where Rhode Island succeeds in fighting the scourge of tobacco is through public clean air policies and directing tobacco taxes toward cessation and education programs. Where Rhode Island could improve is finding a way to reduce the amount of high school smokers by focusing more on prevention.