The Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Tobacco Use Control Project (TUCP) has released a report presenting the Virginia findings from the 2009-10 National Adult Tobacco Survey (NATS). An average of 9,242 Virginians who smoke or formerly smoke die each year from smoking-related causes.[i] Healthcare costs associated with smoking–related illness in Virginia are over two billion dollars; this amount excludes health costs attributable to second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure, and health costs associated with the use of tobacco products other than cigarettes.[ii] Additionally, productivity losses cost tax payers $2.53 billion dollars annually. In this report, data from the Virginia sample of the 2009-2010 National Adult Tobacco Survey (NATS) was used to examine the behaviors, opinions, and experiences of adults in Virginia around tobacco use. Achieving a better understanding of why people in Virginia smoke, factors that contribute to successful smoking cessation, and demonstration of widespread support for SHS prevention in shared spaces will all help to decrease the proportion of people in Virginia affected by tobacco use.
[i] CDC, “State-Specific Smoking-Attributable Mortality and Years of Potential Life Lost — United States, 2000-2004,” (MMWR) 58(2), January 22, 2009.
[ii] Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/facts_issues/toll_us/virginia. Accessed November 15, 2011.
The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has awarded a $95,000 grant to Prevention Connections to help reduce smoking and other tobacco use among mental health and substance abuse patients in Virginia. “There is a significant gap in tobacco cessation services for the behavioral health population in Virginia. The smoking rate among this population is significantly greater than among other adults,” says Cathleen Grzesiek, board chair of Prevention Connections, a Richmond-based nonprofit focused on preventing tobacco use and obesity, the two leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States. About 19.3 percent of adults in the United States smoke; various reports estimate that the smoking rate among adult mental health and substance abuse patients is as high as 60 percent to 90 percent.
In Virginia, 18.5 percent of adults are smokers. At least 9,200 Virginians die each year from health problems caused by their own smoking.
Prevention Connections will partner with the Alliance for the Prevention and Treatment of Nicotine Addiction and numerous state community services boards and behavioral health organizations to implement these initiatives through Sept. 30, 2013. The primary goals of the program relate to integrating tobacco cessation as a standard practice in behavioral health settings, including developing a toolkit of provider education resources and enabling education and training to equip and empower providers with skills and tools to intervene effectively with behavioral healthcare patients to reduce tobacco use.
Prevention Connections has provided one-time emergency funding to bridge the service gap in the Virginia Quit Line from the beginning of February to the end of March 2012. These funds provided 757 tobacco users who were ready to quit with the critical cessation counseling services they needed. Based on the Virginia QuitLine success rate of 15.3% (versus 3-5% of smokers who quit on their own) and a per tobacco user cost to Virginia of $6,374; PC’s generosity saved the Commonwealth approximately $500,000.
Smoking kills more people each year than illegal drugs, alcohol, car crashes, AIDS, murders, and suicides combined. For every person in Virginia who dies from smoking, there are approximately twenty more that suffer from other tobacco-caused health problems. The annual health care expenditures in the Commonwealth of Virginia caused directly by tobacco use is $2.08 billion.
Tobacco users in Virginia who call 1-800-QUIT-NOW are 5 times more likely to succeed in staying quit than those attempting to quit on their own. The Virginia Quit Line provides a multi-call, personalized counseling plan with fully trained Quit Coaches to those who are ready to quit using tobacco for good. Based on the Virginia quit rate and a per tobacco user cost to Virginia, the Virginia Quit Line saved the Commonwealth approximately $2.9 million last year.