Did you know that smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined?
We at the Madera County Public Health Department Tobacco Control Program have a mission to save lives by helping people to quit smoking. However, there are some obstacles that we face as we continue this endeavor and we would like to share with you our challenges, along with our solutions.
According to the 2010 US Census, 19.8 percent of individuals in Madera County are below the federal poverty level compared to 16.3 percent of individuals in California. This socioeconomic indicator is troubling because poverty is a determinant of tobacco use. The World Health Organization stated in 2008: “Tobacco use is significantly greater among lower socioeconomic groups in developed and developing countries. A socioeconomic gradient exists in relation to exposure to second-hand smoke and successfully quitting smoking, with consequent health effects.”
Madera County has a large proportion of residents who are living in poverty. According to the World Health Organization, we can project that many Madera residents smoke more, are exposed to more second-hand smoke, have a more difficult time successfully quitting, and consequently have worse health outcomes than other counties with a smaller proportion of residents living in poverty.
The situation is alarming, but you can help. We can all start by spreading the word in our community about the resources available to smokers. More specifically, you can help by referring smokers to the Health Department where all Madera County residents can enroll in free individual or group cessation counseling. We can also link smokers to additional services that will support their goal to quit.
For more information on how you could help reverse the poverty and tobacco trends here in Madera County, please call the Health Department at 559-675-7893. Let’s work together to help save lives in our community.
Madera County Public Health Director