LITTLE ROCK, Ar (KTHV) -- The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas is celebrating 10 years, at a conference in North Little Rock, "Striking Out Tobacco in Arkansas"
Topics include public impact of new and emerging tobacco and nicotine delivering products, chronic diseases and denormalizing tobacco use and the tobacco industry.
According to the American Lung Association, there are 443,000 smoking-related deaths each year. And despite some common myths, the new on-the-market e-cigarettes contain nicotine but are still available for minors to purchase and are allowed in non-smoking public places.
When it comes to clean air--you may be surprised at how well Arkansas stacks up to others in the nation. Thursday, health officials, legislators and citizens against smoking gathered to celebrate a decade of growth in a healthy direction.
"Protecting people from second hand smoke and reducing tobacco use is not only good for health but it's also good for the economy it also reduces costs for tax payers it also reduces the costs for businesses here in Arkansas and everywhere else." says Dr. Stanton Glantz with the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.
Glantz says Arkansas has made great strides in the past decade--especially due to recent legislative changes.
"Strengthening these laws has immediate health benefits for people who live here not only in terms of fewer heart attacks, fewer strokes fewer asthma attacks but it also reduces health care costs for everyone!"
But there are some issues that--like cigarette smoke--still linger.
" E-cigarettes aren't being regulated by anybody!" says Glantz.
The popular e-cigarettes are said to be a safer and healthier way for people to get their fix and even a way to help people who are trying to quit. But Glantz says there are mixed messages regarding the small instruments.
"Your Clean Indoor Air Acts regulates where you can smoke and people shouldn't be smoking them indoors around other people because they ARE putting toxic chemicals into the air. The amount of toxins we don't know."
Arkansas is above the national average of 20 percent with 22 percent of adults who smoke, but Katherine Donald, Executive Director of Tobacco Free Arkansas says she's proud of the changes she's seen.
"Until all workers are protected our work is not done. But the vast majority of workplaces are smoke free. And that's a good thing! Arkansans, we have a lot to be proud of. So in 10 years we look back and I see the great work that we've done.
Stamp Out Smoking
Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas