Are Hawaii’s Tobacco Prevention Programs Being Put at Risk?

Posted on Feb 18, 2015 in Ola Lokahi

52feab7b90ff0.imageWhen it comes to Hawaii statistics on smoking and tobacco use, the facts speak for themselves:

  • Hawaii now holds the distinction of having the third lowest adult smoking rate in the nation.
  • From 2000 to 2013, Hawaii conservatively saved more than $586 million on direct health care costs because adults, youth and pregnant women quit smoking and/or stopped using tobacco products. For every $1.00 spent on tobacco prevention, $4.73 was saved in direct health care costs.
  • In addition to saving on healthcare costs, Hawaii’s prevention efforts using the TSSF funds have resulted in better health outcomes for Hawaii’s residents: death rates from chronic diseases in Hawaii have also decreased significantly between the period of 2001-2003 and 2011-2013 (3 year aggregate), falling 34% for heart disease, 41% for stroke, and 11% for lung cancer.

These positive results point to the need for ongoing support for the tobacco prevention and control programs in our state. In Hawaii, these programs are funded by the Tobacco Settlement Special Funds, which is decreasing.

On top of that, portions of this special fund that are allotted to the Hawaii Department of Health and the Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund, which fund tobacco-related programs, have also been reduced over the past several years.

Funding for tobacco prevention and control programs is now well below levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“These funds are essential to protect the health and quality of life of the people of Hawaii,” said Lola Irvin, Manager of the Tobacco Settlement Project.  “The TSSF has enabled Hawaii to make significant strides in policy, systems and environmental changes across the spectrum of chronic disease prevention and management.”

One of the programs that relies upon TSSF dollars is the Hawaii Tobacco QuitLine, which provides free phone counseling services and is staffed 24/7 by professional cessation coaches who provide assistance to all adult tobacco users, free of charge, regardless of whether they have insurance.

For more information on TSSF-funded programs, visit www.healthyhawaii.com or http://hawaiitquitline.org.Hawaii Tobacco Quitline logo

Hawaii Tobacco QuitLine Facts

  • Assisted more than 22,000 Hawaii residents quit smoking since 2005
  • Receives nearly 400 people per month
  • More than 90% of the callers report making at least one attempt to quit since they enrolled in QuitLine services

About 34% of QuitLine callers actually quit smoking