California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) Secretary Kimberly Belshé and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Dr. Mark Horton today premiered a series of new anti-tobacco television advertisements. The ads include a bold new approach in the fight against tobacco–focusing attention on its impact on the environment. In addition, the two health leaders shared the latest statewide trends surrounding tobacco.
“I am proud of the tremendous progress that California has made during the past 20 years,” said Belshé, “but our job is not yet complete because nearly four million Californians still smoke, and tobacco remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death and disease.”
As California enters its third decade of combating tobacco use, CDPH has created a series of new anti-tobacco television ads. The theme of the new ads include educating Californians about the progress the state has made, the challenges and importance of quitting smoking, the deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry, and the impact toxic tobacco waste has on the environment.
“California is proud, once again, to be a national leader in the fight against tobacco use and addiction, and is launching a new strategy–focusing attention on the degradation of the environment caused by discarded cigarette butts,” said Horton.
Each year, more than 100 million pounds of cigarette butts are discarded in the United States. They are, by far, the most-common trash item found on beaches and roadways. The many toxic chemicals found in cigarettes are released into the environment when butts are discarded. Cigarette butts are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic that does not biodegrade and can remain in the environment for years.
The new focus of ads drives home the message that cigarettes are not just toxic to people, they are toxic to the environment as well.
The campaign also includes television ads featuring Debi Austin. Austin first appeared in an iconic CDPH anti-tobacco ad in 1997 in which she smoked through her tracheotomy shortly after cancer surgery.
The health leaders also shared the latest statewide trends surrounding tobacco. These trends highlight the successes of California’s Tobacco Control Program and highlight areas where there are still challenges.
Some of the program’s accomplishments include:
A 42 percent decline in adult smoking prevalence from 22.7 percent in 1988 to 13.1 percent in 2009; A 42 percent decline among Asian/Pacific Islanders, and a 41 percent decline in smoking for both African American and Latino adults; More than 1 million lives saved both of smokers who quit and of young people who chose not to start smoking; $86 billion dollars in health care costs saved; and Lung cancer declining more than three-times faster in California than in the rest of the nation.
When it comes to challenges, the health leaders said more work must be done to protect Californians from secondhand smoke and to reduce the overall rate of smoking. For instance, the research shows smoking rates are higher in less densely populated areas of the state. On average, people who live in rural California counties smoke at a higher rate (15.9 percent) than those who live in urban areas (10.9 percent).
The California Tobacco Control Program was established by the Tobacco Tax and Health Promotion Act of 1988. The act, which was approved by California voters, instituted a 25-cent tax on each pack of cigarettes and earmarked 5 cents of that tax to fund California’s tobacco control efforts. To learn more about California’s tobacco control program visit www.TobaccoFreeCA.com.