MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The U.S Food and Drug Administration proposed a plan to make cigarettes less addictive by cutting the nicotine levels.
Jabari Sullen, FDA branch director for ADPH, said 20 percent of the state's adult population admit to smoking cigarettes, which is more than the national average.
In a report called "Extinguishing the Tobacco Epidemic in Alabama," the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated 8,600 adults die from smoke-related illnesses each year.
"It is a big problem here in the State of Alabama," Sullen said. "It has been on the incline the past few years."
Sullen said he believes this increase comes from a lack of education in vulnerable communities about the danger of smoking and secondhand smoke. He also said people often forget that smoking is often more than just a bad habit; it's an addiction.
Smoking also has an impact on the state's economy and healthcare. ADPH data shows residents and state government pay $1.66 billion in direct healthcare costs as a result of such a large part of the population smoking. This number shakes out to $955 per household.
"The average smoker spends $2,000 to $3,000 per month, per household," Sullen said.
ADPH launched its quitline in 1996 to help provide resources to people who want to quit smoking. Anyone who calls 1-800-QUIT-NOW or goes to quitnowalabama.com seeking help with receive counseling and free tobacco treatment resources if they are medically eligible.
Sullen said nearly 2,000 Alabamians utilized the program last year.