Terry Cline already had his presentation ready.
He was prepared to tell a group of first-year medical students on Monday that Oklahoma's smoking rate and ranking had gotten worse.
And then — they didn't.
Cline and other health officials had anticipated the data from a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey would show Oklahoma's smoking rates had worsened.
Instead, Oklahoma's ranking of adults who smoke decreased, moving Oklahoma's ranking nationwide from No. 47 to 2011 to No. 39 in 2012.
“This morning, it was a reminder as I looked at that presentation, we actually were expecting those numbers to go up,” he said. “... I had forgotten we had plotted that as projected to go in the opposite direction. It was absolutely good news. It's good news for Oklahoma.”
In 2011, 26 percent of adults in Oklahoma were current smokers. That number decreased to 23 percent in 2012, according to the data collected through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Whenever there's a shift in data, it's important to understand whether it's the result of how data is collected. On Friday, officials agreed that the change in ranking is somewhat attributable to a more accurate pool of data.
The No. 39 ranking and the percentage data came from data collected through the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a system of health-related telephone surveys that collect state data from residents about certain behaviors and health conditions.
In 2011, people who only have cellphones were included in the survey pool for the first time.
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.”