The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says 16.4% of adults in Massachusetts smoked last year, the fourth lowest rate in the country. That's an 8% drop in one year and is the largest decrease in more than a decade. Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach explains the sudden decline.
We attribute it to two things. The first is that Governor Patrick and the legislature restored money to the public health budget (for tobacco control). In addition to that health care reform was a very positive influence on tobacco use.
The state says that as uninsured residents enrolled in health plans, they connected with primary care doctors who helped them quit smoking. The Department of Public Health will continue to offer free nicotine replacement patches through the end of August. DPH says a one dollar per pack increase in the tobacco tax is also moving residents to reduce or stop smoking.
It's not clear yet how this decline will translate into lower cigarette tax revenues for the state. Health Care for All says the cigarette tax revenue projections are based on this smoking rate. Here's a brief look at "Who Smokes?"
This program aired on July 30, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.