Smoking rate takes dive

Filed under: Health Care |

Colorado is among nation’s top 10 states for lowest smoking rate, and smoking among high school students has dropped below 16 percent.
“The willingness of individuals to take responsibility for their own health and well-being plays a significant role in building a healthy state and a sustainable health care system,” said Gov. Bill Ritter when he announced the results.
Colorado ranks ninth for the lowest prevalence of adult smoking, up from 14th during 2005. The smoking rate dropped from 22.3 percent during 2001 to 17.9 percent during 2006, placing the state below the national average of 20.1 percent.
Among high school students, cigarette smoking declined from 18.2 percent during 2001 to 14.6 percent during 2006, surpassing the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy People 2010 goal of 16 percent.
These successes are being attributed to the money provided by Amendment 35, the 2004 voter-approved increase in the tobacco tax that pays for tobacco education, Ritter said. The money is administered by the State Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership, housed within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which provides programs that help to reduce youth smoking rates, to assist adults who want to quit, to reduce the exposure to secondhand smoke and to work with populations disparately affected by tobacco.
According to the department, tobacco use is the No. 1 risk factor for heart disease, cancer, stroke and lung disease. Tobacco is the leading cause of early death and disability.
The department says that about 16,000 Coloradoans die every year from cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic lower respiratory disease. An estimated one-quarter of these deaths were because of smoking.
Annual health care costs in Colorado, which are attributable to smoking, are estimated at $1.3 billion by the CDC.

Doctors launch effort to boost immunization rates

The Colorado Academy of Family Physicians is conducting a statewide education effort to boost children’s immunization rates.
CAFP will launch its “Personally, I Care” campaign this month, which has been proclaimed as Family Health Month in Colorado by Gov. Bill Ritter. Family physicians and other primary care providers will be informing patients and the public about the importance of children receiving immunizations to prevent diseases such as whooping cough, chicken pox and the mumps.
The campaign is a component of the association’s ongoing goal to promote “the personal medical home,” an approach to providing comprehensive primary care for children, youth and adults through partnerships between patients and their physicians, and when appropriate, patients’ families.
CAFP was among the organizations that supported of the passage of House Bill 1347, The Colorado Immunization Bill, which expands the voluntary statewide registry to include patients who are 18 and older, adds newborn screening to the registry and provides a directive for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to explore more effective methods of increasing access to and delivery of immunizations.
CAFP is a professional association representing more than 1,900 family physicians, residents and students.

Dental insurer launches Web site

HumanaDental Insurance Co. has created a Web site,, for dental health-risk assessment.
The site’s primary feature — the My Dental IQ quiz — rates a person’s dental-health knowledge and delivers a personalized oral-health action plan.
“We created to promote routine dental care, which typically results in improved oral health,” said Mark Matzke, chief operating officer of HumanaDental. “The link between oral health and overall health is well documented, and something we want to make our dental health-plan members — and all visitors to — more aware of. Research shows that periodontal (gum) disease can cause or aggravate health problems elsewhere, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and can cause premature, underweight babies.”
Visitors to the site can learn about the link between oral and overall health, steps to maintaining oral health, how family history can impact oral health and healthy eating habits.
The site also provides additional information from sources such as the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.