All this week, I’m talking about the five “winnable battles” in public health as laid out by the new CDC Director – Dr. Thomas Frieden.  Dr. Frieden talked about focusing its strategic planning on public health and policy interventions to help win the 5 “Winnable Battles” in the next 3 years.  There’s not much on the CDC’s website yet on the new strategy- but moving forward you’re sure to hear about them.

3.     Smoking and Tobacco Use

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US and in Arizona.  Cigarettes are responsible for about one in five deaths annually in the US, or about 443,000 deaths per year.  Enough said about the problem, but what can be done?

Here in Arizona, we’ve taken an aggressive stand over the years and have focused a great deal of our voter-protected tobacco prevention funds toward preventing kids from starting.  If you can keep a kid from smoking past age 21, they are unlikely to ever become addicted.  If they do, they will have a good chance of kicking the habit.  When kids start smoking as an adolescent, their brain get’s “hard wired” to the nicotine and they are much more likely to become a life-long smoker.  You can check out our youth prevention campaign including the media spots on our website.

Nationally, there will be some policy changes, as the FDA now has authority to regulate the nicotine in cigarettes as a drug.   The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed last year will put into motion a series of regulations over time that regulate tobacco products.  The first in the series will start in June, when  Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco kick in.  Most of the things on the June list regulate smokeless tobacco (chew).  There is a lot more information on the FDA’s website.