Adult Smoking in Washington Third Lowest in Nation

New research show that the adult smoking rate in Washington has dropped from 15.3 percent to 14.8 percent since last year. This puts Washington in third place for the lowest smoking percentage among adults in the country. Although this is a positive change, smokeless tobacco products are becoming more popular. Lowering the smoking rate among people with low income and less education is still a challenge as well.

The state wide Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, started in 2000, has lowered smoking rates by nearly a third. That means 105,000 residents of the state are at less risk for tobacco related illnesses, saving the state nearly $3 billion dollars. Nearly 30 percent of people with low income still smoke, and 27 of those with a lack of higher education as well. These people are attempting to quit as much as other residents, but fail more often.

The state is also committed to preventing a rise in the use of smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes. Chewing tobacco causes and other health problems, and is not a safer alternative. The Washington State Tobacco Quit Line, which can be reached at 1-800-QUIT-Now, offers free information for anyone ready to quit using any kind of tobacco products. The help line reports that over 150,000 have called for help since it’s inception in November of 2000.

The information demonstrating the drop in the smoking rate was gathered by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Over 20,000 people from all areas of Washington were surveyed about their tobacco use and other health risk behaviors.

Cigarette taxes, strong smoke-free laws, and an active tobacco control and prevention program have all contributed to this decrease. Despite this success, Washington remains committed to pushing the percentage even lower. Thousands of people die each year from tobacco illnesses each year in the state, and nearly 50 young people pick up the habit each day.

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