According to a wa.gov press release, in a survey conducted by the Washington State Department of Health, results showed that the state average of adult smokers is continuing on a downward trend.
One thing to attribute to the decrease in adult smokers is the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program in 2000. Ever since this program was started, adult smoking has gone from 22.4 percent to a new all time low of 17 percent. Washington is also proud to have the fifth lowest smoking rate in the United States.
The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey showed that 17.6 percent of adults smoked in 2005, but that number still dropped to 17 percent a year later in 2006. While it may seem like a small decrease, it still promotes and shows a downward trend. The state is also happy to say that ever since the drop in 2000, there are 235,000 less smokers in the state of Washington. This translates into $2.1 billion in savings when it comes to future health care costs.
“The state is doing a lot to help people quit smoking,” said Washington resident Peter Boone. “I was able to quit last year with the help of the state. They’ve done some really good campaigning and everything. I hope that other Washington residents can quit like I did.”
Washington resident and mother Courtney Wilhem, said, “The numbers are great. It means that our kids and our grandchild could quite possibly live in a state that is virtually smoke-free.”
Governor Chris Gregoire said, “It is clear that Washington is making strides in reducing smoking and I am pleased with the progress; yet we need to do more to help those who are having problems quitting for good,” said Governor Chris Gregoire.
More research done by the state concludes that people who make a lower income (less than $25,000 a year) and have a lesser education (high school diploma or less) smoke more and are less likely to quit and remain smoke-free. Smoking among low income people is at 30 percent and 27 percent for people with a lesser education. Smoking among these groups of people has not dropped drastically over the past few years.
“I just don’t have to means to quit,” said Washington resident Abby Yules. “I don’t have the time or money to quit. I have to think about other things first,” she said.
Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said, “Tobacco prevention and control is a priority for our state, and overall it is paying off with fewer smokers…at the same time, I m concerned about the higher smoking rates for some groups. We continue to look for new and creative ways to reach people with low income, lower levels of education, and others who are more likely to smoke.”
Aside from low income and lesser education, smoking rates are higher among African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
The state is working hard to get more people to quit smoking. There is a toll-free quit line that can be reached by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW and in Spanish at 1-877-2NO-FUME. Anyone can also visit www.quitline.com