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DHS news release

April 8, 2008

Media contact: Cathryn Cushing, 971-673-1013, Cathryn.S.Cushing@state.or.us


Oregonians support tobacco prevention and expanded smokefree laws


Most favor smokefree policies in all public places where children are present


Oregonians are committed, more than ever, to protecting their communities from the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke, according to a recent statewide poll by the Oregon Tobacco Prevention and Education Program.

A large majority of respondents supported smokefree policies at most public places including playgrounds, fairs and rodeos, and beaches, especially when children are present. Sixty percent of those polled preferred banning smoking in privately owned cars when children are present. They also expressed broad support for tobacco prevention and education, and funding for programs to prevent youth from smoking and to help smokers quit.

The telephone poll surveyed 600 adult Oregonians across the state. In addition to supporting policies that protect children, the majority of respondents also advocated for smokefree policies at hospitals and government-owned buildings. Nearly three-quarters endorsed smoking limits within 50 feet of entrances to hospitals and health clinics. Sixty percent supported such limits at Motor Vehicles Division and county office buildings.

"Smoking affects not only the physical health of a community, but contributes to health care costs and decreases the economic well-being of our state," said Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist in the Oregon Department of Human Services. "When Oregon's Smokefree Workplace Law extends to bars, bingo halls and bowling centers Jan. 1, 2009, Oregon will have one of the nation's strongest smokefree policies. But tobacco remains the leading killer in our state, and thousands of people, especially children, are still exposed to secondhand smoke. Clearly, Oregonians want to do more about clearing the air and helping people break the addiction."

The poll found that 89 percent of Oregonians believe that programs to prevent tobacco use and to motivate and help people to quit smoking are important to the health and well-being of Oregonians. This majority believes it is important to adopt smokefree policies, require insurance companies to help people quit smoking, require licenses for tobacco retailers and give people information on the tobacco industry's deceptive practices. Respondents said these are effective methods to address the problems of tobacco use, protect nonsmokers and keep people from starting to smoke.

On an individual level, eight in 10 Oregonians, including the majority of smokers, said that smoking is never allowed in their home. The majority of respondents reported having been negatively impacted by tobacco use. Fifty-four percent reported having personal experience with, or knowing a friend or family member who has experienced, a tobacco-related illness such as cancer, heart disease or emphysema.

The telephone poll was funded by the Oregon Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, a program of the Oregon Department of Health and Human Services, and conducted by Lake Research Partners, an independent research company. Adults age 18 and older from all 36 counties across Oregon participated. The poll was conducted in January 2008 and has an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. Fourteen percent of survey participants said they were current smokers, 36 percent said they had previously smoked and 49 percent said they had never smoked. This closely mirrors Oregon's population, in which 19 percent of residents currently smoke.

The Oregon Tobacco Prevention and Education Program works with local health departments, tribes, schools and community organizations to deliver a comprehensive tobacco prevention program to all Oregon residents. These program activities are based on evidence-based strategies to reduce and prevent tobacco use. For more information, visit the Tobacco Prevention and Education Program Web site.