Vermont Adult Smoking Rate Falls to 19.5%

For Immediate Release: February 25, 2004

Moira Cook
Tobacco Control Chief
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7592
mcook@vdh.state.vt.us

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health announced today that the percentage of adult smokers in Vermont has fallen to 19.5 percent, according to the 2003 statewide Adult Behavioral Risk Factor Survey.

“This looks like very good news for Vermont,” said Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD. “These survey results indicate that about 10,000 fewer adults are smoking since the Vermont Department of Health launched the Vermont Quit Line and the other components of its Tobacco Control program in 2001 and state tobacco tax increases went into effect in 2002 and 2003.”

The Adult Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys more than 4,000 Vermonters age 18 and older each year. This is the primary tool used to measure the state’s progress toward the goal of reducing the percentage of adult smokers to 11 percent by 2010. Vermont’s adult smoking rate had stalled for more than a decade at between 21 and 24 percent. Vermont’s new 19.5 percent rate is lower than the 2002 national average of 23.0 percent.

“We are hopeful that smoking rates in 2004 will continue to drop as the Tobacco Control program focuses efforts this year on young adult smokers age 18 to 24, the age group with the highest rate of smoking,” said Moira Cook, Tobacco Control Chief for the Vermont Department of Health.

Since 2001, the Health Department’s comprehensive Tobacco Control program has supported the following services for adults:

“Tobacco is still Public Health Enemy #1,” said Dr. Jarris. “This drop in the adult smoking rate, and the great drop we have seen in youth smoking rates, attest to the power of a long-term, comprehensive approach that involves communities, schools and health care providers in the life-saving goal of cutting smoking rates.”

Quitting smoking is one of the healthiest lifestyle changes a person can make, but it’s also one of the most difficult. On average, it takes smokers five to seven attempts before they are able to quit successfully.

An estimated 93,000 adult Vermonters still smoke, and about 1,000 die every year from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease and cancer.