NORMAN — Oklahomans would not settle for football teams ranked 43rd nationally but seem content with a health ranking in the bottom 10 states of the nation. State health officials want to keep moving that needle down, with a six-state gain since 2009.
It’s a lofty goal in a state that is fighting high rates of obesity, smoking and lack of exercise. We’re 47th in the nation in the percentage of adult smokers. Nearly a quarter of the adult population choose to use tobacco products. That number was closer to 29 percent a decade ago.
The Associated Press reports that the overall number of smokers is down, but not as much as the reduced number in other states. We’ve been above the national average for more than a decade.
The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, which begins a two-day Health Communication Workshop on the OU campus today, enlists local councils to build grass-roots coalitions that fight smoking and promote better nutrition and fitness. The tobacco trust has partnered with other groups to address overall health issues. Even in their conference, they offer healthy snacks and a fitness break to all attendees.
The TSET can take some of the credit for the statistical decrease in the number of smokers. For the first time, Oklahoma has more former smokers than the estimated 745,000 current smokers.