INDIANAPOLIS — February is American Heart Month, a month when health professionals encourage Americans to focus on their cardiovascular health.

Here in Indiana, officials are hoping to get Hoosiers to join in on the fight against heart disease.  

One of the biggest causes of heart disease is smoking, according to the CDC. The state of Indiana is listed as one of the worst in the country when it comes to adult smoking rates, which numbers show leads to 11,000 Hoosiers dying each year.

“Smoking is the number one preventable cause of disease and death in the United States,” said Brandee Bastin, Tobacco Initiative coordinator for Hancock Health. “And the state of Indiana is no different.”  

According to Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration, 21.8% of adults in Indiana currently smoke cigarettes, compared to 14% of adults in the U.S. This leads to our state ranking 7th among the 50 states and Washington D.C. for rates of smoking by adults. 

“We spent about $3 billion a year in healthcare costs related to smoking. Close to $500 million in Medicaid expenses,” Bastin said. “And so, when you think about investing for tobacco smoking prevention and treatment, how many lives can be saved? And how much money can be saved here in the state of Indiana?”

Bastin and Hancock Health are not only hoping to get adults to eliminate tobacco use, but they’re also hoping efforts could prevent children and teens from ever trying them. This is a tall task considering roughly 2,300 Indiana youth begin using cigarettes daily, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

A 2018 survey also showed more than 1 in 5 Indiana high school students and nearly 1 in 10 middle school students reported current use of any tobacco product. The use of e-cigarettes was also reported by 18.5% of Indiana high school students.

The good news is there are plenty of resources to help Hoosiers who want to quit tobacco use. Hancock Health has a “Commit to Quit” program that can help people looking to break the habit.

The state of Indiana also has numerous resources including the phone-based tobacco quit line. More resources can be found here.