Smoking rates in isles decrease significantly


POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hawaii's smoking rate has declined dramatically since 2000 and the American Cancer Society hopes to continue that trend as the 34th Great American Smokeout is observed today.

The state's smoking rate of 15.4 percent of adults is the fifth lowest in the country, said Milton Hirata, Cancer Society spokesman.200%

The Cancer Society ACS is offering a variety of resources for anyone wanting to quit smoking, said Jackie Young, chief staff officer for the organization. “;We know that quitting smoking is tough and that most smokers have to try several times before quitting for good.”;

The Cancer Society is encouraging smokers to plan a course of action to help them throw away cigarettes and improve their life expectancy. For help to give up the habit, call the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline at 800-784-8669.

Those who quit at age 35 gain an average of eight years of life expectancy. If they quit at age 55 they gain about five years and long-term smokers who quit at 65 gain three years, the Cancer Society said.






» More than 1,100 Hawaii residents die annually because of tobacco use — the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States.


» 30 percent of cancer deaths can be attributed to tobacco, including 87 percent of lung cancer fatalities.


» Hawaii has the fifth lowest smoking rate (15.4 percent) in the nation, behind Utah, California, New Jersey and Maryland, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


» County smoking prevalence: Hawaii, 18.9 percent; Maui, 16.5 percent; Honolulu, 14.8 percent; Kauai, 13.1 percent.


» Smoking-related health care expenditures and productivity losses in the U.S. total about $193 billion per year, $550 million in Hawaii.


» The American Cancer Society created the first Great American Smokeout in 1976 to encourage smokers to quit for a day and make a long-term plan to quit for good.


Source: American Cancer Society


Research shows people who stop smoking before age 50 can cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue smoking, the Cancer Society said.

The lung cancer death rate 10 years after someone quits smoking is about half that of an ongoing smoker, it said. Instant health effects include a drop in heart rate and blood pressure 20 minutes after quitting, it said.

The impact of Hawaii's anti-tobacco programs, workplace and secondhand smoking laws and increased cost of cigarettes may be reflected in a decline in smokers.

Also, Hirata said, “;I think as a whole people in Hawaii are choosing to live healthier.”;

Student smoking dropped dramatically from 2000 to 2007, according to a recent state Department of Health behavioral risk factor surveillance survey, Hirata noted.

High school students saying they smoked at least once the previous month fell to 10 percent from 25 percent. Middle school student smokers dropped to 4 percent from 13 percent.

Smokeout events are being held on all islands this week, with youths waving signs to raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco use, displays and health fairs. Participants include hospitals, the American Lung Association, Colleges Against Cancer, Maui Community College, the Maui Tobacco-Free Partnership, Hilo High and Intermediate Schools and Waiakea Intermediate School, REAL and Tobacco-Free Kauai.

The University Health Services is sponsoring a fair today from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus Center with a focus on “;sustainability, with strategies for reducing the impact that tobacco has on people, pets and the planet.”;

Smoke-free tips and tools are also available on a Great American Smokeout Web site, http://www.cancer.org/GreatAmericans.