Smoking on the Decline in Utah

Smoking on the Decline in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Uthans are kicking the smoking habit, according to a new report from the Utah Department of Health.

The report shows 29,000 people -- or 25 percent of all smokers -- have quit since 1999 when state officials launched an aggressive anti-smoking campaign. The program was paid for with money from the master settlement agreement between states and tobacco companies.

"What this shows is if you have a sustainable program and you continue with that program . . . you can see results," said Beverly May, regional advocacy director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "I think that we have every reason to be proud."

Utah's current adult smoking rate is 10.5 percent, the lowest since 1984, the year health officials bean tracking.

Data in the 2005 Tobacco Prevention and Control in Utah report also shows that child and adolescent exposure to secondhand smoke has decreased 44 percent since 2001.

The smoking rate for high school students dropped 39 percent since 1999, the data shows.

Almost 200,000 Utahns are smokers. The report estimates that tobacco uses costs the state $530 million annually in smoking-related medical and productivity costs. And 1,100 Utahns die each year from smoking-related causes.

Utah gets between $30 million and $35 million annually from the settlement, about $4 million of which goes for prevention program. Cigarette taxes generate another $3 million and $2 million comes to the health department through federal matching funds.

"We don't have an incredibly highly funded program, which we're not complaining about. We do a lot with the money we have," Dibble said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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