It’s Time for Oklahoma To Be Exiled From Tobacco Nation
Deep within the U.S. lies yet another nation known as “Tobacco Nation,” a group of 12 states in the Midwest and South whose smoking prevalence is almost 50% higher than in other states. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is one of them.
That’s not OK. Although the rate of adult smoking is now the lowest it’s ever been, Oklahoma still has plenty of work to do. Here are some steps we can take to ensure Oklahoma is exiled from Tobacco Nation — once and for all.
Strengthen Prevention Efforts and Tobacco Control Policies
It’s no coincidence the states making up Tobacco Nation spend less on tobacco control efforts — and our policies are also significantly less restrictive. In fact, Oklahoma is one of only three states without statewide smokefree policies, which is unfortunate because these policies are proven to sharply reduce tobacco use in other states throughout the past two decades.
Evidence-backed policies that could lower Oklahoma’s smoking rate include:
- Prohibiting smoking in cars with children: A child’s level of secondhand smoke exposure is directly proportionate to their risk of using tobacco as an adult.
- Ensuring that 100% of indoor air is smokefree: Smoking is still allowed inside many Oklahoma businesses, which endangers countless employees and patrons.
- Removing menthol and flavored tobacco products: 4 out of 5 youth who have used tobacco started with a flavored product.
- Reducing youth access to tobacco: The vast majority of adults who smoke picked it up before the age of 18.
- Repealing preemption: This legal strategy prevents cities and towns from adopting laws that are stricter than state laws.
Address Tobacco Prices
The states with the highest smoking prevalence also have the lowest tobacco taxes, including Oklahoma. On average, cigarettes cost 15% less in states within Tobacco Nation than elsewhere in the U.S. Additionally, the excise tax on cigarettes is only about half of what it is in the states that fall outside of Tobacco Nation.
This partially explains why those living in these states who smoke consume nearly twice as many cigarettes per capita than individuals throughout the rest of the country, at 53 packs per year (versus 29). This adds up to nearly 500 more cigarettes annually.
In Oklahoma, a $1.50 price increase on tobacco products could:
- Prevent 28,200 youth from smoking as adults
- Encourage 30,400 adults to quit smoking
- Prevent 16,700 future smoking-related deaths
- Save the state $1.22 billion in future health care expenses
Although our adult smoking rate recently dropped below 17%, a historic low, we can still do better — because all Oklahomans deserve to live in a state that protects them from secondhand smoke and prioritizes their wellbeing.
Join the Fight
Ready to help us remove Oklahoma from Tobacco Nation for good? Discover ways to get involved here!