Colorado Adult and Youth Smoking Rates Lowest Since 1990
DENVER – Governor Bill Ritter today announced significant reductions in the smoking rates among youth and adults in Colorado. Colorado's 2006 adult smoking rate puts Colorado in the nation's top ten for lowest smoking prevalence. And, among Colorado high school youth, the state has surpassed the national 2010 goal of a smoking rate lower than 16 percent.
"The willingness of individuals to take responsibility for their own health and well-being plays a significant role in building a healthy state and a sustainable health care system," said Gov. Ritter. "I believe that the only way to achieve comprehensive health reform is through shared responsibility. Everyone – individuals, families, employers, health care providers, government and insurers – must be a part of the solution and must have a stake in the success of the outcome.
"That starts with individuals taking charge of their own health," said Gov. Ritter. "The data being released today shows this not only is a possibility, but a reality here in Colorado."
Colorado now ranks 9th in the nation for the lowest prevalence of adult smoking, up from a ranking of 14th in 2005. The adult smoking rate dropped from 22.3 percent in 2001, to 17.9 percent in 2006. Colorado's 17.9 percent smoking rate, surpassed the national average in 2006 of 20.1 percent. The 17.9 percent rate is the lowest rate for Colorado since at least 1990. [See attached table for historical data on adult smoking rates in the U.S. and Colorado.]
Among high school students, cigarette smoking declined from 18.2 percent in 2001 to 14.6 percent in 2006, thus surpassing the Center for Disease Control's Healthy People 2010 goal of 16 percent.
These successes can be directly attributed to the funding provided by Amendment 35, the 2004 voter-approved increase in the tobacco tax that funds the state's work in tobacco education. This funding is administered by the State Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership, housed within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which provides comprehensive programs to reduce youth smoking rates, assist adults who want to quit, reduce the exposure to secondhand smoke and to work with populations disparately affected by tobacco.
According to the department, tobacco use is the number one risk factor for chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and lung disease. Tobacco is the leading cause of early death and disability and is a leading cause of chronic disease.
"Reducing smoking among Coloradans is a primary strategy for reducing chronic disease because quitting by the age of 30 eliminates nearly all excess risk associated with smoking," said Colorado Chief Medical Officer Ned Calonge. "And, smokers who quit before the age of 50, cut in half their risk of dying in the next 15 years."
The department reports that approximately 16,000 Coloradans die each year from cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic lower respiratory disease. An estimated one-quarter of these deaths were due to smoking.
Annual health care costs in Colorado, which are attributable to smoking, are estimated at $1.3 billion by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One program of the Department of Public Health and Environment that helps adults quit smoking is the Colorado QuitLine, a free telephone-based service, which offers a free supply of the nicotine patch and personalized assistance from an experienced quit coach. The QuitLine number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
In addition to helping adults, the department has an extensive outreach program to prevent youth and adolescents from ever starting smoking, such as a school-based curriculum in middle schools, high schools and colleges as well as a partnership with a number of the Tony Grampsas non-profit organizations, which reach out to high-risk youth.
Trend Data, Colorado and US
Adult Cigarette Smoking Rates
Current Cig--overall (BRFSS)
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006.