A new survey shows the number of Iowans who smoke has dropped dramatically in the last two years. Bonnie Mapes of the Iowa Department of Public Health says approximately 79,000 fewer adults in Iowa smoke. She says the number of smokers has gone "from 18% to 14%, which reprents a 22% decrease since 2006."
Mapes says they believe this is one of the biggest changes in the country. Mapes says there hasn’t been research back to 1998 to compare every state each two years of the survey, but she says they’ve gone back and done some searching and "it is a very, very, significant drop, it’s one of the best drops any state has ever seen."
Mapes, who is the director of the Tobacco Use and Prevention Control Division, says the state has done several things to encourage or help people stop smoking, and those are likely factors in the drop. She says the tobacco tax increase is one thing, and the Quitline has offered free nicotine patches and gum. Mapes says 26,000 people called the Quitline last year to get help. She says the new Smoke Free Air Act that bans smoking in most public places will likely keep more people from smoking, but she says it’s hard to say how much impact all of those things have had.
The survey does give some insight into why people are putting down the cigarettes. Mapes says more than half the people (54%)said they quit for health reasons, and the next highest reason was that cigarettes are too expensive. Nineteen percent said they quite because it was too expensive.
Too see more on the preliminary survey results, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website and look under "Adult Tobacco Surveys." The full report will be available by mid-February. For help in quitting smoking, you can call Quitline Iowa at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit the Quitline website .