Tobacco remains Colorado’s No. 1 cause of preventable death
Tobacco causes more than 4,300 deaths every year in Colorado — more than alcohol, AIDS, motor vehicle accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. As part of its continuing efforts to prevent and reduce the toxic health effects of tobacco use, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is launching a new online resource, www.TobaccoFreeCO.org.
This new web hub will serve as the state’s primary resource for Coloradans who want to quit smoking; community members who want to get involved in reducing tobacco use; and those who want to learn about the impact of tobacco use, secondhand smoke and tobacco industry marketing.
Surveys show nearly one in six Coloradans (17 percent) smoke cigarettes. In Denver County, one in five people ages 18 and older are smokers. Smoking and other types of tobacco use, such as chewing tobacco and snuff-like products, end up costing each Colorado household an average of $579 each year in health care-related costs.
“Tobacco use affects all Coloradans,” said the department’s Interim Chief Medical Officer Tista Ghosh. “TobaccoFreeCO.org is a place where all Coloradans can go to get accurate information on this important public health issue. Whether you’re thinking about quitting, exposed to secondhand smoke, or are looking for the facts about the dangers of tobacco, you can find the resources and information you need at TobaccoFreeCO.org.”
The web hub features facts about tobacco’s harmful effects, help with quitting, secondhand smoke resources, and campaign media and materials. Visitors can connect with services such as the Colorado QuitLine, understand the laws surrounding tobacco use and sales in Colorado, and even pledge to become or remain tobacco-free.
To support and promote the new web hub, a new statewide mass media campaign called “I Am Tobacco” will expose the inevitable effects of prolonged tobacco use and exposure. The campaign’s honest, direct tone will be featured on advertisements at gas stations, liquor stores, restaurants, bus shelters, online and through radio.
Temporary screens will be set up in key launch areas in Denver, Pueblo and Grand Junction to promote the campaign website. These screens will provide passers-by an opportunity to see the severe consequences of tobacco use in Colorado and register their reactions. People’s interactions will be recorded and later made available, with their permission, at TobaccoFreeCO.org. Additionally, mobile billboard displays will feature messages promoting the campaign at public events in Fort Collins, Greeley, Pagosa Springs, Vail and the Colorado State Fair.
The TobaccoFreeCO.org campaign is funded through revenues generated from the voter-approved 2004 Colorado Amendment 35. The amendment created a tax of 84 cents on cigarette packs and increased taxes on other tobacco products by 20 percent. More than 95 percent of Amendment 35 funds are awarded to nonprofits, government agencies and businesses across the state through grant programs.