I grew up sitting in the backseat of a car while my mother smoked in the front seat.  Secondhand smoke was my miserable lot every time we went anywhere!  I feel like I'm back in the backseat again, whenever I go outside...and now indoors too!.  This forest fire smoke pouring into the Yakima Valley is starting to take a toll on my eyes and throat.  I mean, I like camping as much as the next guy, but I don't choose to actually sit IN the campfire when I go!

Makes me wonder how mom could smoke so much for so long,  And yes, she did die of lung cancer.  But where are we at with smoking in society today and here in Washington State?

Smoking Down But Not Out

There's a new report from Filterbuy, a company that sells air filters, that looks at smoking rates throughout the United States. Find that report HERE. The number of smokers has gone down about 30% in the last 25 years, but the dollars involved are still astonishing. Add the value of lost productivity to actual medical costs and you are pushing more than $300 billion a year in total costs while killing 480-thousand individuals.

Smokers are defined in the report as people who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke all or some days.

How Wasington Smokes

The report shows 12.7% of Washington adults are smokers—that's the 8th fewest in the country.  Here is a summary of the data for Washington:

  • Percentage of adults who smoke: 12.7%
  • Percentage of adults in poor physical health: 12.2%
  • Percentage of adults with COPD: 5.2%
  • Percentage of adults with cancer: 7.6%
  • Percentage of adults who have experienced a stroke: 2.9%
  • Percentage of adults with coronary heart disease: 3.4%

For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:

  • Percentage of adults who smoke: 16.0%
  • Percentage of adults in poor physical health: 12.6%
  • Percentage of adults with COPD: 6.4%
  • Percentage of adults with cancer: 7.3%
  • Percentage of adults who have experienced a stroke: 3.2%
  • Percentage of adults with coronary heart disease: 3.9%

The numbers are pretty clear.  Fewer smokers equate with fewer instances of poor health and disease and overall lower healthcare costs.  Now, if only we could put out these forest fires....

CHECK THEM OUT: States With the Best and Worst Commutes