“What proportion of cancer deaths are attributable to cigarette smoking in each U.S. state?” That was the key question asked in a new study reported in JAMA Internal Medicine published on-line October 24, 2016. According to the results, at least a third of the men in every state (except Utah) and “at least 20% of women in all states” (except Utah, California, and Hawaii) are dying from cancer due to smoking.” Those numbers are even higher in some southern states which, not surprising, also have lower tobacco taxes. Although smoking has been cut in half since 1964 when “the first Surgeon General’s Report on the health hazards of cigarette smoking” came out, 40 million adults still smoke despite everything we know about the dangers of tobacco.
According to the report in 2014 28.6% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. “were attributable to cigarette smoking,” with more deaths occurring in men (62.0%) than women (38.0%). Those living in Southern states took the biggest hit in deaths in men where “smoking accounted for nearly 40% of cancer deaths in 5 states.” It’s “where 95% of the US tobacco crop is grown.” Of the 21 states that spend less than 10% of the CDC-recommended amount on tobacco control, 8 are located in the South.
Florida came in at #18 for combined men and women with 12,596 smoking-attributable cancer deaths, and 42,818 cancer deaths overall. That puts the proportion of cancer deaths at 29.8% due to smoking. The rank for men only was at 23 with 7,773 smoking-attributable cancer deaths out of the 23,109 cancer deaths for men. The ranking for women was far lower at 16 with 4,823 smoking-attributable cancer deaths out of 19,709 total cancer deaths. So what can Florida do to protect its citizens and improve public health?
The first thing would be to raise the cigarette tax and impose taxes on all tobacco products. Florida cigarette tax is currently at $1.339 per pack, putting us at 29th place in the U.S. with the last increase in 2009. There is currently no tax on cigars in Florida. cigars. Florida is in a unique situation as voters in 2006 constitutionally approved protecting the allocation of tobacco settlement dollars to its tobacco control program. On the other hand the percentage the state spends for tobacco control programs is only at 36.2% of the CDC-recommended level. Money spent to get people off tobacco and preventing them from starting would be less than paying for health care costs later. While smoking is prohibited in most public places such as restaurants and workplaces, bars can allow smoking provided 10% or less of their sales comes from food. Making Florida a smoke-free state would further reduce smoking-prevalence. And lastly, increasing the smoking age to 21 would further reduce the teen smoking rate, and possibly prevent teens from ever starting. You can read more about the State of Tobacco for Florida HERE.
Is it any wonder tobacco use and ultimately cancer rates are so high when the combined spending on tobacco control for all states “was less than $500 million in 2016″ while the tobacco industry is spending $10 billion on marketing?” States can’t compete with the tobacco industry in terms of money spent for prevention, but we can provide tobacco prevention courses in schools for our children as well as pass laws and regulations that are in the best interest of public health.
Click HERE for entire article, charts and maps.
If you are a Florida educator and would like to earn FLDOE certificate points while teaching tobacco prevention lessons to your students, click on www.tobaccopreventiontraining.org