A recent report has come out that ranks Marion County as the 44th healthiest, or more accurately the 23rd most unhealthy, county in Florida. An unimpressive feat for a state with only 67 counties. The study takes a few different factors into account, some of the more concerning of them including Adult Smoking, Adult Obesity, Access to Recreational Facilities, and the Teen Birth Rate.
Smoking or tobacco use is the number 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. According to www.tobaccofreeflorida.com an estimated 28,600 Floridians die a year due to tobacco related illnesses. Tobacco use also accounts for an estimated $19.6 Billion in loss revenue for the state.
In Marion County, 22% of adults reported smoking. This national benchmark is 13% and the Florida Average is 19%. The scary thing is that the report doesn’t take smokeless tobacco or teen tobacco use into account. According to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survery, in 2012, 22.7% of Marion County high school students had tried some form of tobacco within the past 30 days of being surveyed. This compares to the 17.9% that the whole state reports.
More disturbing than the tobacco use rate, is the amount of money spent by tobacco companies to attract new users. In Florida alone, tobacco companies spend $700 million to market their products. They use pictures of their brand in hopes of normalizing the behavior and have even resorted to flavoring their products to taste like candy. Big tobacco uses unimaginable amounts of money hoping to addict life long users.
Reading this the question becomes, what can we do? We can start by supporting local control efforts. You can join your local Tobacco Free Partnership or refer any tobacco user you know to receive free cessation services. Encourage your kids to join or start their school’s Students Working Against Tobacco club. Early education has shown to be one of the best ways to prevent tobacco use. If you personally use tobacco, quit!
Marion County has the capacity to be one of the healthiest counties in the state. We have the resources and the facilities to encourage a great quality of life among our citizens. To improve our ranking and overall health we must start taking care of the little things. We know today that tobacco use is bad for our health. Quitting is hard but not impossible. In our next segment we will discuss Marion County’s adult obesity rates and how to combat this growing problem.
County Health Rankings and Road Maps
Tobacco Free Florida