It's the number one cause of preventable death in our state. The state health department says more than 600,000 Oklahoma adults use tobacco. And the number of children getting hooked grows every day.
But our money is going to help stop the addiction.
This year alone - Oklahoma has spent $21.2 million on tobacco prevention and cessation. A tobacco industry settlement covers most of that: $18.6 million, another $2 million from state tobacco sales taxes. But close to half a million dollars, $418,822, is pulled out of our pockets.
The state health department spends that money in communities that don't benefit from the Trust, mainly more rural areas of the state. The Department works with these communities to create tobacco-free policies in schools, hospitals and businesses.
Since Oklahoma has the third highest rate of smokers in the nation, health officials say it's money that has to be spent.
"If you look at the research, it shows us that for every $1 you spend on tobacco prevention, you can get $50 in return on health improvements and money saved, so we're really talking about investing in the future of our state," said Center for the Advancement of Wellness Director Keith Reed.