South Dakota fails smoking report
PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota received a failing grade Tuesday, along with 38 other states, for efforts to reduce smoking among females.
A joint study by the National Women's Law Center and Oregon Health and Science University ranked South Dakota 23rd among all states in terms of assistance provided women and girls who smoke.
The state scored high, however, for having a toll-free telephone line that offers help to those who want to quit smoking. More than 17,000 people have called the Tobacco Quitline (1-866-737-8487) since it began operating in January 2002.
The report faulted the state for not providing full anti-smoking services as part of its Medicaid program. South Dakota also ranked low for tobacco-prevention funding and the level of its state cigarette tax, which is 53 cents a pack. Good marks on cigarette taxes are provided only when they are at least $1.50 a pack.
The study indicates that 346 South Dakota women die each year from health problems linked to smoking and many of the state's pregnant women continue to smoke.
"As the report shows, South Dakota is still failing to properly address the burden that tobacco places on our state," said Kitty Kinsman, a consultant for the South Dakota Tobacco-Free Kids Network and former state health secretary.
Funding for statewide tobacco prevention this year is about $2.2 million, or $2.90 per South Dakotan, she said. That is roughly one-fourth of the minimum recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Kinsman said.
"The ratings reflect some of South Dakota's recent policy gain in secondhand-smoke protections, tobacco taxes and cessation services, but clearly more needs to be done," she said.
Teri Christensen, tobacco-control project director in the state Health Department, said the study should not fault South Dakota for failing to provide full tobacco-cessation services as part of its Medicaid program. Those services are augmented by the Health Department, she said.
"It's a stiff criteria to assume that the Medicaid program is going to provide not only prescription medication but also over-the-counter medication and counseling," Christensen said. "Medicaid recipients can get counseling free. They get prescription medications, and we, through our Quitline service, provide them discounted over-the-counter products."
Colleen Winter, state health-promotion office administrator, said women who want to quit smoking are provided with a full range of state services.
"We really are helping them, regardless of whether it's Medicaid or the state Health Department," she said.
It is especially important that pregnant women not smoke, said Deb Soholt, director of women's health at Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health System in Sioux Falls. She said about 20 percent of pregnant women smoke in South Dakota, which is 62 percent higher than the national average.
"When a pregnant woman smokes, she is not only harming herself, but also her unborn baby," Soholt said.
The study gave South Dakota a failing grade for restrictions on secondhand smoke. However, data used in the report was collected before the South Dakota Legislature passed a law that banned smoking in most indoor workplaces and public places.