Fewer people are smoking in Colorado, but health officials say more work is needed to combat tobacco use in the state.
Annual cigarette consumption dropped from 67 packs per capita during 2001 to 46.3 during 2008, lower than the national average of 63.4. Among high school students, smoking declined from 14.6 percent during 2006 to 11.9 percent during 2008, surpassing the Healthy People 2010 objective.
“Increasing the tobacco tax and implementing smoke-free laws play a huge role in reducing tobacco use, according to respected health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, and the Task Force for Community Preventive Services,” said Jillan Jacobellis, director of the preventive services divsion at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Studies show states with strong tobacco control programs have lower rates of tobacco use. Colorado’s program started with the 2005 tobacco tax increase and the implementation of the 2006 Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act.
Colorado’s adult smoking rate has leveled out at 18.1 percent. One of the largest segments of the population still smoking are people with low socioeconomic status. Two out of three smokers fall into that segment, and their rate of smoking is three times higher than the rest of the population. Men smoke more than women, the department said.
Tobacco-related illness costs Coloradans more than $1.3 billion in health care spending annually.