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Arizona Shows More Than a 20% Drop in Smoking Rates

170,000 Arizonans quit smoking since 2007

PHOENIX, May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- New information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2008, shows that the rate of smoking among adults in Arizona has dropped significantly -- more than four percentage points representing a 20.7 percent decrease in prevalence equating to 170,000 Arizonans who quit smoking since 2007. The rate of smoking in one year dropped from 19.8 percent to 15.7 percent.

Bill Pfeifer, TRUST Commission Chairman said, "This is a historic drop in smoking prevalence for Arizona."

This decrease, the single largest decline in tobacco use in any state in the U.S. during the past year, moves Arizona from ranking 26th in the nation for smoking prevalence to 7th.

"This is a jump in the ranking of Arizona; and that says great things about the leadership of our state for tobacco control," said Wayne Tormala, Bureau Chief for the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease (ADHS BTCD). "But what this also means is that more Arizonans are making the choice to positively impact their own health, the health of our state, their personal budgets, and our Arizona economy."

"Healthcare costs for smoking related illnesses cost Arizona $3.6 million a day," Tormala added.

"Our state is progressive in tobacco control," Pfeifer said. "The TRUST Commission has worked closely with the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society locally to spearhead tobacco control efforts in our state." The Commission works closely with ADHS BTCD, all 15 counties statewide, community partners statewide and other tobacco control organizations like Arizonans Concerned About Smoking and the Coalition for Tobacco Free Arizona.

"Truly it is because of partnership and collaboration statewide that we have been successful in moving the bar," Tormala added. Tormala leads the ADHS BTCD which is responsible for coordinating much of the community-based, grass-roots efforts around the state; works to educate Arizona youth about tobacco prevention; and partners with Arizona Smoker's Helpline (ASHLine) to provide free tobacco quitting services to all Arizonans.

Since the end of 2006 many changes have occurred in Arizona that could be part of the reason for the steep decrease. For example:

  • The TRUST Commission worked with American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Associations' and other organizations statewide to raise the tax on tobacco by two cents and pass the Smokefree Arizona Law.
  • Smokefree Arizona, the law that eliminates smoking in most indoor businesses went into effect in the beginning of 2007. ADHS' Bureau of Environmental Health has worked with all 15 counties statewide to enforce the smoking ban.
  • ADHS BTCD worked closely with the Health Officers from all 15 counties statewide to develop its new strategic direction, engaging people locally on the topic of tobacco control during more than 30 public meetings statewide.
  • In early 2008, the strategic plan was implemented and County tobacco control program teams began engaging in community development and outreach activities around tobacco control statewide.
  • ADHS BTCD did a media campaign including paid advertising featuring Nick, an "everyday" person who was quitting smoking utilizing the state's free quit assistance program - ASHLine. This campaign was effective in getting the message out about free cessation services.
  • ADHS BTCD began working with AHCCCS to provide nicotine replacement as a benefit to clients.
  • ADHS BTCD did a significant 'pilot program' offering free nicotine replacement therapies and medications.

"It's a collaborative effort, we are all working on this everyday," Pfeifer said. "And today, we get to take a moment to recognize that we are, collectively, having an impact."

"Whether it's the health impact or the cost, whatever motivates a person to quit, we are excited to see this impact in Arizona," Tormala adds. The Arizona Smokers' Helpline (ASHLine) is the free quit coaching service provided by the state and, he says, "We can help all Arizonans quit too. Call the ASHLine at 1-800-55-66-222 or visit and try the recently launched on-line WebQuit program."

"Now is a good time to quit," Tormala said. "If you've tried before, or if this is your first time, let us help you quit tobacco."

About the TRUST Commission

Arizona's Tobacco Revenue Use Spending and Tracking Commission was established with the passing of Arizona's first tobacco tax. The Commission acts as an advisory board which oversees the programs and services provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease (ADHS BTCD).

About the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease (ADHS BTCD)

ADHS BTCD is the tobacco prevention, education and cessation program for the state of Arizona and is funded by the voter approved/voter protected tax on the sale of tobacco products which began in 1995.

About Smokefree Arizona

In November of 2006 the citizens of Arizona passed the Smoke-Free Arizona Act A.R.S. section 36-601.01. This landmark statute prohibits smoking in most enclosed public places and places of employment. The law became effective May 1st, 2007.

About Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a state-based system of health surveys that were developed and conducted in order to monitor state-level prevalence of the major behavioral risks among adults associated with premature morbidity and mortality. The basic philosophy was to collect data on actual behaviors, rather than attitudes or knowledge that would be particularly useful for planning, initiating, supporting, and evaluating health promotion and disease prevention programs.

The BRFSS is a cross-sectional telephone survey conducted by state health departments with technical and methodological assistance provided by the CDC. Every year, states conduct monthly telephone surveillance using a standardized questionnaire to determine the distribution of risk behaviors and health practices among non-institutionalized adults. Adults 18 and over are asked to take part in the survey. Only one adult is interviewed per household.

About ASHLine

The Arizona Smokers' Helpline offers effective, research-based tobacco use cessation services to Arizona residents through personalized telephone coaching services in English and Spanish. features a series of modules that allow clients to develop an individualized quit plan. Clients are able to schedule periodic email or text reminders prompting them to return to the website to review their quit plan. Online assessments and activities help clients review and revise their quit plan to help them stay quit. ASHLine is a partner of the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco Education and Prevention (ADHS BTEP). Toll free: 1- 800- 55-66-222.

Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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