According to the 2010 Behavior Risk Factor Survey Washington’s adult smoking rate remains low at 15 percent. This is good news! It means more Washingtonians will be spared an early, tobacco-related death. Fewer people are being exposed to secondhand smoke, and our state will save billions of dollars in future health care costs..
Several things have likely contributed to Washington’s continued decrease in adult smoking. These include one of the nation’s strongest smoke-free laws, imposing the third highest cigarette tax in the country, and implementing a comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program.
The not so good news is that the rates of smoking among people from low-income or lower educational backgrounds, at 29 and 27 percent respectively, remain high and are not decreasing.
Although many who live in poverty want to quit and attempt to quit as often as those from higher income groups, they are less successful.
One reason for this is that they have less social support for quitting. Often, they have less access to health care and other resources that would help them treat their illnesses. Other factors include tobacco cessation being a low priority in higher-risk communities, institutional racism, lack of focused resources, and tobacco companies marketing to specific communities. The result is a higher rate of death and disease from tobacco use among many of our more vulnerable community members and more exposure to secondhand smoke for the community.
Reducing exposure to secondhand smoke
To address exposure to secondhand smoke, especially among vulnerable populations such as children, Public Health promotes tobacco-free environments through these programs:
- Smoke-free housing - Learn how to establish a no-smoking rule in homeowner or community associations.
- Smoking in public places - Get answers to common questions about Smoking in Public Places law, including information on how to borrow signs to post at community-sponsored events.