STAFF REPORTS Today’s News-Herald -Havasunews.com Published Tuesday, May 29, 2012 1:59 AM MST
Arizona Department of Health Services recently announced “World No Tobacco Day” is celebrated Thursday and will mark the 5-year anniversary of the Smoke-Free Arizona Act, which is a voter initiative that prohibits smoking in most enclosed public places.
According to ADHS, Arizona has been a national leader in reducing tobacco. Since the Act went into effect in 2007, an estimated 230,000 Arizonans have quit using tobacco. The number represents about a 25 percent drop in smoking in the state. Furthermore, a 2010 statewide survey showed that more than 80 percent of Arizonans and 70 percent of business owners appreciate smoke-free laws.
“The people have truly responded to the Act,” said Harmony Duport, Office of Inspection and Compliance Chief at ADHS, in a prepared statement. “We went from thousands of inquiries and complaints the first year to a little over 100 a month last year. Both business owners and the general public seem comfortable with the Act.”
The agency attributes smoke-free laws, the high cost of tobacco, and effective prevention and cessation programs to reducing the tobacco burden in Arizona, the ADHS stated.
“The health prognosis of a smoker, no matter how long they have been smoking, is immediately improved the moment they stop smoking and continues to improve over time,” said Bill Pfieifer, CEO of American Lung Association of the Southwest, in a prepared statement. “Tobacco is at the root of so many preventable diseases.”
ADHS tobacco-cessation program Arizona Smokers’ Helpline, or ASHLine, has one of the best success rates of all quit-lines in the U.S. The program includes support on the telephone, online and through smartphones, according to the press release.
The program is funded by the state tax on tobacco products through the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease at ADHS. ASHLine is a statewide program and is located at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
The helpline and website have been helping Arizonans to quit tobacco since 1995. The program is free to participants. For more information call 800-55-66-222, or visit www.ASHLine.org.