Smoking drops in Maryland more than in the nation
Anti-smoking advocates are crediting an indoor smoking ban and a cigarette tax for bringing down the rate of smoking in Maryland.
The advocates said in a press conference earlier today that there was a 32 percent drop in adult smoking from 1998 to 2009 – more than twice the national average.
They also announced $550,000 in U.S. Food and Drug Administration money to help enforce a ban on selling tobacco to minors. Inspections of retail outlets will begin later this month, they said.
The announcement came from a collection of Maryland health officials, including former city health commissioner Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, who is now the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner, and John M. Colmers, the secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“We've made significant progress in the battle against smoking and tobacco-related disease because our public and private partners are working hard to help adults quit smoking and keep children from starting,” Colmers said in a statement. “While we've done more with less in tough economic times to reduce tobacco use, we remain committed to doing more. The health and future life expectancy of Maryland's children and adults are at stake.”
At the heart of the drop in smoking, Colmers and others said was the 2007 smoking ban, a controversial move that prohibits smoking in all public indoor places including bars, restaurants and workplaces, and the one-dollar a pack increase in the tobacco tax. They also cited the Maryland Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, which has received calls from 50,000 people seeking help quitting.
Here are the stats they cited (from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion - Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System):
Maryland tobacco use average dropped to 15.1 percent in 2009 from 22.4 percent in 1998, or 32.6 percent. Nationally, the drop went to 20.6 percent from 24.1 percent in the same time frame, or 14.5 percent.
So, have you quit? Any of the reasons cited by authorities a factor?
Baltimore Sun file photo/Lloyd Fox