New information from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) shows fewer young people are using tobacco in the state. In fact, the rates are falling steadily and significantly.
Over the past decade, rates of youth who have used any form of tobacco have dropped from 26.1 percent in 2003 to 19.4 percent in 2013. The percentage of high school students who smoked cigarettes on at least one day during the 30 days before the survey, declined from 20.9 percent to 12.8 percent.
Adult smoking rates are also falling, down from 21.2 percent in 2011 to 18.8 percent in 2013. That’s a prevalence rate slightly lower than the U.S. average of 19.0 percent.
More than 1.5 million Georgians aged 18 and older smoke cigarettes. Another 315,000 adults in Georgia use some form of smokeless tobacco like chewing tobacco, snuff, or snus.
“More than 11,000 Georgians die from tobacco-related diseases each year – that’s more than alcohol, cocaine and heroin, AIDS, murders, suicides, auto accidents and fires combined,” said Jean O’Connor, JD, DrPH, chronic disease prevention director, Georgia Department of Public Health. “Tobacco users die on average 10 years earlier than non-tobacco users, so keeping youth from starting to use tobacco is one of the best ways to protect them from tobacco-related illness.”
Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in Georgia. Annually, tobacco-related illness costs more than $5 billion dollars in direct healthcare costs and indirect costs, such as lost wages.
More than half of Georgians who use tobacco want to quit. Quitting is the most important step current tobacco users can take to protect their health and the health of their families. Tobacco use and secondhand smoke cause heart disease, lung disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. The benefits of quitting start immediately. Within 20 minutes of quitting, a tobacco user’s heart rate decreases.
The Georgia Department of Public Health and its partners have set goals to decrease youth smoking to less than 10 percent and adult smoking to less than 15 percent of the population by 2020. To achieve these goals, DPH and its partners are encouraging businesses, schools, and government agencies to create tobacco-free environments and to support tobacco users who want to quit.
Tobacco users across Georgia will work toward those goals by marking The Great American Smokeout, Thursday, Nov. 20, with a quit attempt. The day encourages smokers to quit or to use the day to make a quit plan. Help is available. Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or call the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line. The Quitline is currently offering free nicotine replacement therapy to Medicaid participants, the uninsured, and certain other groups that qualify.
English: 1-877-270-STOP (877-270-7867)
Spanish: 1-877-2NO-FUME (877-266-3863)
Hearing Impaired: 1-877-777-6534
The Georgia Tobacco Quitline is a free, confidential and effective service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (including holidays) to help Georgians quit smoking or using any forms of tobacco, including electronic cigarettes or other electronic nicotine delivery devices.