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October 5, 2010

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

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 12:58 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Healthy Living


This is important news for Maryland. Tobacco takes a tremendous toll on health. Maryland has dropped from the top ten states in cancer mortality in 1985 to 19th today. Indeed, less smoking during this period has been a major factor. The investment in no-tobacco activities (hotline, medication to help quit smoking, education, etc.) and early detection of cancer using state funds (largely, Cigarette Restitution Fund) have been a factor. Congrats to the health leadership in Maryland.

I doubt these statistics. When Maryland raised the tobacco tax by another dollar many smokers refused to buy locally and buy out of state instead. Tobacco tax revenues dropped of course as well as the number of folks counted as smokers. Me? I refuse to pay ANY more tobacco taxes, (It's $3.18 a pack now) so I give my tax $ to other states or Native American Nations.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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