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Fortunately, smoking in Utah isn’t as great a problem as it is in other parts of the nation and world. Utah’s adult smoking rate is at its lowest level since the health department began tracking tobacco use rates in 1984.
Still, 190,000 Utahns smoke. And 1,100 Utahns die each year because of tobacco use. Medical and productivity expenses attributed to smoking cost Utah’s economy some $530 million each year.
That is why programs like tomorrow’s annual Great American Smokeout warrant widespread support.
This year’s event will focus on persuading health care providers, as they should, to more aggressively encourage their patients who smoke to quit. Research shows smokers are much more likely to kick the habit when a physician or dentist advises them to do it. And yet, a new Utah Department of Health study says fewer smokers were counseled in 2004 by their health care providers to quit than in previous years.
KSL joins sponsors of this year’s Great American Smokeout in encouraging health care providers to take a more direct and aggressive role in helping their patients who use tobacco to quit. Studies suggest 78 percent of those in Utah who smoke would like to kick the habit. If they’re willing, society should be willing to do all it can to help them.