Newly Released Data Indicates Pressing Need for Tobacco Control Efforts
Los Angeles County failed to meet the 2000 national health objective of less than 15 percent prevalence for current smokers at 18.1 percent. "These data demonstrate the need for increased efforts to implement programs and policies to reduce cigarette smo
The CDC recently released the first report to compare smoking prevalence in 99 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) using consistent methods of calculation. The findings from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System revealed that Los Angeles County had lower levels of smoking prevalence than many of the 23 MSA compared for the region, but failed to meet the national objective. Orange County reported the lowest level of smoking prevalence (13.0 percent) of the MSA nationwide, and was one of only three to meet the national health objective. Los Angeles County, with 18.1 percent smokers, ranked 7th among other MSAs in the region and 9th among the national sample.
The report indicates 22.4 percent of men and 13.8 percent of women in Los Angeles County smoke cigarettes. In contrast, 13.8 percent of men and 12.3 percent of women in Orange County smoke. On the positive side, 55.7 percent of County smokers reported quitting smoking for more than one day in the previous 12 months.
"The good news is that LA County smokers are getting the message," said Fielding. "In our county, tobacco use is responsible for approximately 11,000 deaths per year and is significantly associated with the top five causes of death: coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory cancer, pneumonia, and emphysema."
While the Los Angeles figures are lower than many areas in the region and the nation, County officials are concerned. "We're up against an industry that spends $150 million a year to market its lethal products in Los Angeles alone -- that's $15.57 per person. We need to continue to invest to promote policies that give protection from environmental tobacco smoke, reduce smoking in public places, help youth resist taking up the habit, and to help adults who want to quit succeed," said Fielding. As part of the Department's overall efforts, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week approved $3.5 million in new contracts for a variety of tobacco control activities.
Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 3,600 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $430 million.