With “World No Tobacco Day” coming up on Wed., May 31st, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on with the tobacco industry in Hawai‘i and around the world. The theme this year is:
“Tobacco – a Threat to Development.”
Tobacco isn’t just a danger to those who smoke or vape. It remains a vicious societal issue – a worldwide menace of epic proportions – perpetuating death, disease, poverty, pollution, deforestation and more.
#1 – Tobacco Hits Home in Hawai‘i¹
Hawai‘i has made great strides in establishing a smoke-free social norm. Fewer than one in seven people smoke, and Hawai‘i has a relatively low smoking rate, compared to other states. But tobacco continues to kill in our state – costing lives and costing millions. It’s a fact – and so are these:
• Each year in Hawai‘i, smoking kills 1,400 people.
• In Hawai‘i, $526 MILLION in healthcare costs are directly attributed to smoking every year.
• $387 million in smoking-caused productivity losses in Hawai‘i.
#2 – Tobacco Preys on Hawai‘i’s Most Vulnerable – including our Keiki
Tobacco discriminates. It’s a fact. In Hawai‘i specifically, smoking disproportionately affects groups by race and ethnicity, income and education, mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as groups such as the LBGT community and the homeless.² These groups smoke/vape at higher rates than the general population in Hawai‘i. Members of the LGBT community, for example, are twice as likely to smoke.
It’s no accident. Tobacco companies prey on who they see as the most vulnerable. Despite the laws and regulations already in place, our keiki are still at risk. The fascination that our keiki have with vaping and other new products, for example, threatens our chances to protect the next generation from the deadly effects of nicotine addiction.
#3 – Native Hawaiians & Filipinos Face a Greater Threat
Native Hawaiians use tobacco at a much higher rate than the rest of the local population. This group has one of the highest smoking rates compared to all ethnic groups in the state
• Native Hawaiians – 20% Smoking Rate³
• Adults Overall in Hawai‘i – 14% Smoking Rate³
The smoking prevalence among adult Filipino males (17.9%)³ in Hawai‘i is nearly 3 times as much as adult Filipino females (6.4%)³. Further, in Hawai‘i public high schools, Filipino girls, as well as boys, smoke at a rate of 6.8%.⁴
#4 – Vapes ARE a tobacco product
There is NO vape product or e-cigarette device that is approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to help you quit smoking. The FDA has determined⁵ and also under Hawai‘i law, vapes or “electronic smoking devices” are included in the definition of a tobacco product.⁶ Why is this a threat? The vape industry markets itself as an alternative to cigarettes. Some smokers switch to vapes and think they’ve quit, but the reality is that they are just getting their nicotine fix in a different form. The addiction to nicotine still exists.
#5 – Inaction Threatens a Sustainable, Tobacco-Free World
It’s important to know these facts so you can help spread the word, educate others and increase awareness. We invite everyone to get involved. Use your voice to get behind this cause. You are an influencer.
• Start by acknowledging “World No Tobacco Day” on May 31st this year.
• Post or Tweet a supportive statement or one of the facts in this article on your social media.
• Tell a friend about “World No Tobacco Day” and share some stats.
• GET INVOLVED – the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii has tobacco coalitions in every county. Check to see how you can help! https://hiphi.org/tobacco/
• Like or comment on the Hawai‘i Tobacco Quitline Facebook Page.
• Spread the word – literally and via social media – about the Hawai‘i Tobacco Quitline.
Help us make sure everyone knows that the Hawai‘i Tobacco Quitline offers FREE help to anyone in Hawai‘i. Anyone. The Quitline offers free custom quit plans and free patches, gum, or lozenges to those who sign up to quit. The number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You can also sign up online.
¹ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs – 2014. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.
² Hawai‘i State Department of Health. Tobacco Control Strategic Plan, 2016-2020. Honolulu, HI: Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion Division, Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, 2016.
³ Hawaii Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Hawaii State Department of Health. Citation: Hawaii Health Data Warehouse, Hawaii State Department of Health, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2015.
⁴ Hawaii Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Hawaii State Department of Education and Hawaii State Department of Health. Citation: Hawaii Health Data Warehouse, State of Hawaii, Hawaii School Health Survey: Youth Risk Behavior Survey Module, 2015.
⁵ Federal Register. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration. Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Restrictions on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products; Final Rule. Vol. 81. No. 90, 2016.
⁶ Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Chapter 328J.