July 26, 2011

Preventing and controlling tobacco

Today I was inspired by a sign I saw on my walk from the MAX (public transportation train in Portland) to the Oregon State Office Building....

This sign is evidence that tobacco prevention and control efforts are effective. This sign reminded me of why I do my work - essentially, why I have a job. :)

Warning: two minute tobacco prevention and control spiel ahead.

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Each year tobacco-use attributes to more than 440,000 deaths nation wide and costs more than $75 Billion in medical expenses and $82 Million in loss productivity (that is A LOT of money). Roughly 20% of U.S. adults smoke.

In Alaska, roughly 42% of Alaska Native adults smoke (almost half the AK Native population) and 12% use smokeless tobacco, almost double and triple the statewide smoking and smokeless tobacco use rates, respectively. What is even more daunting? A study showed that 32% of Alaska Native youth reported smoking in a thirty day period (compared to 20% nationally).

Although challenging, working in tobacco prevention and control is inspiring. Movement is happening. Tobacco policies at all levels are being implemented. Tobacco use rates are decreasing. People who use tobacco are quitting...and more of those people are staying quit.

As Vincent Lambardi simply stated:
"The difference between success and no success is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."