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Oklahoma sees historic shift in smoking rate

Oklahoma's ranking of adults who smoke decreased, moving from No. 47 to 2011 to No. 39 in 2012.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: August 26, 2013
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/articleid/3876218/1/pictures/2192880">Photo - A UCO student puffs on a cigarette on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009. By Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
A UCO student puffs on a cigarette on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009. By Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

Cline said when the CDC first made this change in data collection, public health officials expected smoking rate data to show increases.

“Many of the individuals who have cellphones only in the United States who have been excluded are people who have been struggling with their socioeconomic status,” he said.

In Oklahoma, people who have lower incomes generally smoke at higher rates.

About 40 percent of adults who make less than $15,000 per year were current smokers in 2012. Meanwhile, about 17 percent of adults who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year were smokers.

Tracey Strader, the executive director of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, said she thinks including households with only cellphones has helped ensure the survey data collected is more accurate.

But the decrease in the percentage of adults who smoke is twofold — better data and a concerted community effort to promote healthier lifestyles, she said.

For example, more people are paying attention to the dangers of secondhand smoke, she said. Also, several communities are making an effort to pass ordinances and begin programs that promote healthier lifestyles.

“It's those combinations of things that really create an environment that supports making that healthier choice,” she said. “Nothing we're doing is absolving people of personal responsibility, but our communities have that responsibility, as well, to create that environment. Working together is what drives down these rates of use.”

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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