The Health and Economic Costs of Tobacco

Smoking Rates in Washington State

  • Smoking among youth is on the rise. Five percent of 6th graders, 15% of 8th graders, 25% of 10th graders, and 29% of 12th graders smoke. There was a 38% increase from 1990 to 1998 in the number of high school seniors who smoke.
  • Tobacco use and addiction nearly always take root before the age of 18. Almost 90% of adult smokers began at or before age 18. While many youth are optimistic about quitting, studies have shown that three-fourths of youth who try to quit are unsuccessful.
  • 22.4% of adults smoke. Smoking rates are highest for adults aged 18-24 years (30%) and lowest for persons aged 65 or older (11.3%).
  • Smoking rates are highest among low-income people. The smoking rate exceeds 30% for people earning under $25,000 per year.

Health Impacts

  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States.
  • Smoking cigarettes causes heart disease, lung and esophageal cancer, and chronic lung disease.
  • Tobacco claims more lives than drugs, alcohol, firearms, and motor vehicle incidents combined.
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