National Public Health Week is an opportunity to remind communities that tobacco is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, and that we need to fully implement proven public health strategies to help end this epidemic.
As described in the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, the past 50 years of tobacco control are a public health success story. Smoking rates among adults and teens are less than half what they were in 1964, when the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health was released. These lower smoking rates have saved about 8 million lives in this country. Since 1964, average life expectancy has increased by about 10 years, and a third of that increase is because of lower smoking rates.
In the last half century, we have developed public health strategies that are proven to reduce tobacco use, including:
- Affordable and accessible cessation help for all smokers who want to quit.
- Smoke-free policies that protect nonsmokers in all workplaces and public places.
- Higher prices on tobacco products.
- Hard-hitting mass media campaigns informing them about the dangers of smoking and providing resources to help them quit.
- Funding comprehensive statewide tobacco control programs at CDC-recommended levels.
If we dedicate ourselves to fully implementing these proven public health strategies, we can reach a point where tobacco use is rare, rather than an epidemic.
Smokers or tobacco users who want to quit can call QuitlineNC at
1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Spanish speakers can call 1-855-Dejelo-Ya (1-855-335-3569).
Mecklenburg County residents who are uninsured or on Medicaid or Medicare can receive a two-week starter kit of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), along with one-on-one counseling.