The adult smoking rate in the US is falling faster than is has in the past 20 years based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 50 years ago, roughly 42% of adults in the US smoked, and that rate has now fallen to about 15%. Renee Underwood with the state Department of Health and Hospitals says currently there is no state specific data on smokers. She says their department launched a statewide campaign last year to help people kick their tobacco habits.

“The campaign has reached over two million Louisiana residents with a focus on the northern half of our state, where smoking prevalence is higher among both youth and adult populations,” Underwood said.

The smoking rate in the US typically drops by less than 1% a year, but in 2015 the rate decreased by 2%. Underwood says she hopes campaigns like the Louisiana Tobacco Quit Line have helped reduce the number of smokers. She says the state quit line has helped more than 16,000 smokers just in the last year.

“The quit line offers free phone counseling and nicotine replacement therapy to callers 13 years of age or older,” Underwood said.

Underwood says DHH also partners with other organizations, such as the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the American Cancer Society, to reduce the number of people who start smoking and to get smokers the resources they need to quit.

“We also work in partnership with several statewide and national organizations to coordinate strategies that prevent young people from becoming smokers, eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, and promote cessation services,” Underwood said.