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October - Health Literacy Month


One of the scariest holidays of October is here! Health Literacy Month! Whether you’re busy carving pumpkins or finding scary costumes, don’t forget to take control of your health and improve your understanding of health information. Health literacy is the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information. About 9 out of 10 English-speaking adults in the United States have poor health literacy. Those with poor literacy are more likely to report poor health and engage in risky behaviors such as the use of tobacco. Poor health literacy is associated with higher nicotine dependence, less knowledge and lower perceptions about smoking health risks.    


Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Ohio.  About 1 in 5 adults in Ohio smoke cigarettes. In 2015, about 7 out of every 10 smokers reported that they wanted to quit. It takes an average of 8-10 quit attempts to successfully quit smoking. Poor health literacy plays a role that makes tobacco cessation harder to achieve. Listed below are ways you can improve your health literacy and make better decisions about your health.      


Ways to improve your understanding of health information:

  • Write down or record the provided health information from your doctors and their staff.


  • Ask your healthcare professionals to use familiar language and write down their contact info in case you need to ask questions later.


  • Ask questions if something is not clear or if you don’t understand how to apply the provided information. Let the health care professional know if what they are telling you is confusing in any way.


  • Take advantage of local resources and attend health education programs at local health departments, hospitals, and clinics.


  • Share information, stories, and trusted sources of health information with friends and family. If you need help to find reliable sources, ask your local public or medical librarian.


Many people hide their struggles with understanding health information due to shame. Let’s scare off shame and start seeking clear information.



If someone you know smokes and wants to quit, encourage them to call the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or use the free online tobacco cessation tools at QuitLogix ( To learn more about the ODH Tobacco Program, visit our website or like us on Facebook.


Last Updated: 9/28/2017