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John Woods: Cigarette Price Increase Will Save Lives

A $1 per pack price increase in cigarettes recently signed into law will save lives, help people quit smoking and keep young people from starting.

This public policy win for health also includes taxing little cigars like cigarettes. Lawmakers who supported this effort should be applauded a change in state law that will help Oklahomans live longer healthier lives and help prevent Oklahoma kids from acquiring a nicotine addiction that could impact their developing brains and increase chances that they will become adult smokers.

Nearly 10,200 premature deaths will be avoided as a result of an increase in the price of cigarettes. For kids, this price increase is even more meaningful, this $1 increase will keep 17,300 kids from becoming adult smokers.

In the months leading up cigarette price increase, TSET is ready educate Oklahomans on the benefits of being tobacco free and support that decision by working with organizations and communities to increase tobacco free policies and offer free services for those who want to quit.

The adult smoking rate in our state has reached a record low of 19.6 percent, but is still above the national average and over 2,000 Oklahoma kids under the age of 18 become new daily smokers each year. There is room for improvement.

TSET funds the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, a free service available 24/7. The Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) provides the tools and support needed to quit tobacco and includes free text and email support, phone and web coaching, patches, gum or lozenges and more for registered participants. Previous price increases have produced a spike in Helpline callers. We are preparing for that, and are ready to assist more Oklahomans in kicking a costly and deadly habit.

The price increase will nudge people to rethink their tobacco use and look for ways to quit tobacco. You can support their quit by checking out the free resources available on OKhelpline.com. Follow the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline on Facebook and Twitter and share with your social circles about the available resources and free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Sharing a Helpline post every couple of weeks means you could be changing someone’s life for the healthier!  

We know that quitting is hard, and often takes more than just one attempt and we want everyone to know that there is a resource available for them when they are ready to quit tobacco.

At TSET, we are devoted to preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease, Oklahoma’s leading causes of death. We do this by preventing and reducing tobacco use and obesity through our evidence-based programs and grants. We do not receive tobacco or cigarette tax revenue, but it is our mission to reduce the overall cost of tobacco use and poor health on our state. 

Increasing the price of cigarettes and little cigars will benefit our state for generations to come as fewer people die from smoking-related illnesses and fewer children are the path to a lifetime of addiction.