The Hawai‘i State Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program (TPEP) is the state’s official program dedicated to reducing tobacco consumption.

wide-lookj2 wide-lookpyellowjTobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Hawaii. In Hawaii alone, it claims 1,100 lives each year and creates $336 million in annual healthcare costs directly attributed to smoking. Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined – and thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes – such as fires caused by smoking and smokeless tobacco use.

Using a comprehensive multi-strategy approach incorporating prevention and education approaches, TPEP’s activities focus on four priorities:

  • Preventing  youth from starting and using tobacco products

    Most people who start smoking are younger than 18, and many begin tobacco use before high school. It is critical to provide tobacco prevention education to students in elementary through high school because impressions about tobacco use are formed and developed during this period.

  • Promoting the quitting of tobacco use among adults and youth

    Smokers who quit smoking before age 50 cut in half their risk of dying in the next 15 years. In addition, implementation of moderately-priced, effective smoking cessation interventions would more than pay for these interventions within 3 to 4 years through cost savings from reduced tobacco use.

  • Protecting non smokers from exposure to tobacco smoke

    Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar, and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. This mixture contains more than 4,000 substances, more than 40 of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals and many of which are strong irritants.

  • Preventing tobacco use among population groups more likely to suffer smoking-related diseases

    Despite significant gains in Hawaii, some populations experience a disproportionate health and economic burden from tobacco use. A higher rate of smoking in disparate communities is attributed to a complex interaction of multiple factors (i.e. socioeconomic status, cultural characteristics, acculturation, stress, biologic elements, targeted advertising, price of tobacco products, and varying capacities of communities to mount effective tobacco control initiatives.