Tobacco use is the #1 preventable cause of death. In Vermont, smoking costs approximately $348 million in medical expenses and results in an estimated 1,000 smoking-related deaths each year. 10,000 kids now under 18 and alive in Vermont will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. Countless other lives, including those of friends and family members, are impacted by the negative effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. Reducing tobacco use and the chronic disease and mortality it causes is one of CDC's Winnable Battles.
Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death, but about 800 Vermonters still die each year from tobacco-related diseases. Given this morbidity and mortality, three goals guide the work of the Tobacco Control Program: prevent youth smoking; reduce adult smoking; reduce exposure to second-hand-smoke. The Health Department Tobacco Control Program employs Centers for Disease Control and Prevention best practice in four key areas to address these goals:
Cessation services help Vermonters quit smoking through the Quitline, Quit Partners, or Quit Online as part of 802Quits. These services are evidence-based and greatly increase the changes a smoker will quit successfully. The program also partners to provide nicotine replacement therapy
Mass Reach Media, including hard-hitting ads, is shown to be effective in reaching those who smoke and inciting them to reach out to 802Quits. This includes television, radio, and social media efforts.
State and community interventions raise awareness on the actions decision makers can take to reduce the toll of tobacco. These include educating decision makers about passing smoke-free policies at local parks and playgrounds, which reduce secondhand smoke exposure and create positive social norms around tobacco use, and changing the tobacco retail environment, where exposure to product and advertising causes youth tobacco initiation. The Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Education fund two youth tobacco prevention groups – Our Voices Xposed (OVX) in high schools and Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT) in middle schools.
Surveillance and evaluation ensure the program stays on track and uses data to drive programmatic decision making. The Tobacco Control Program invests in data collection, analysis, and dissemination to partners in and outside of government.
The Tobacco Control Program is committed to serving all Vermonters seeking to reduce and quit their tobacco use. Some populations, including pregnant smokers, Medicaid-insured, those with mental illness or substance abuse disorders, less education, and lower income, are a focus of the Health Department. Additionally, supervisory unions with a higher burden of tobacco use are a targeted sector supported by this program. Tobacco use and the morbidity and mortality it causes disproportionally impact those with fewer resources and results in large health disparities.
By employing CDC Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs with fidelity, the work of the Tobacco Control Program and partners should, over time, impact the number of Vermonters who smoke and therefore reduce deaths from tobacco-related diseases. Quitting tobacco has beneficial short and long term health impacts no matter one’s age. Three behaviors - no physical activity, poor diet, and tobacco use - lead to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease accounting for more than 50% of premature deaths in Vermont. Reaching Vermonters that want to quit and supplying the needed cessation support will reduce, over time, the number of Vermonters suffering and dying from chronic disease.
Together with population indicators, the following performance measures focus on whether Vermonters are better off as a result of this program. They do so by looking at the quality and efficiency of these programs and services.