Extinguishing the Tobacco Epidemic in Washington

The Problem

Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States, despite a significant decline in the number of people who smoke. Over 16 million Americans have at least one disease caused by smoking. This amounts to $170 billion in direct medical costs that could be saved every year if we could prevent youth from starting to smoke and help every person who smokes to quit.

people surrounded by various tobacco products

Washington Key Facts

In 2019, 36.5% of US high school youth reported currently using any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. Among US high school youth, 6.0% reported currently smoking cigarettes.

$1.8M

Was received from CDC for tobacco prevention and control activities in FY 2020

12.7%

Of adults smoked cigarettes in 2019

8,300

Adults die from smoking-related illnesses each year

$2.8B

Was spent on healthcare costs due to smoking in 2009

$1.8M

Was received from CDC for tobacco prevention and control activities in FY 2020

12.7%

Of adults smoked cigarettes in 2019

8,300

Adults die from smoking-related illnesses each year

$2.8B

Was spent on healthcare costs due to smoking in 2009

Public Health Response to Tobacco Use in Washington

While Washington has made progress in reducing the number of youth and adults who smoke, there are still opportunities to reach individuals who want to quit, including young adults. To address the issue of young adult smoking rates, Washington’s state quitline co-developed a smartphone application designed to reach young adults. The app is designed for adults who want to quit, but who may not be interested in using a telephone quitline and prefer instead a more private, tech-based approach to quitting. Launched in 2015, 36% of users of the smartphone app are age 18-34, compared to the quitline where only 15% of users are age 18-34.

CDC’s Role in Advancing State Tobacco Control Programs

Washington is one of 50 states plus DC that receives funding and technical support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support comprehensive tobacco control efforts and quitlines. The Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) is the lead federal agency for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control. For decades, OSH has led public health efforts to prevent young people from using tobacco and to help all tobacco users to quit.

CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®) Campaign Helps Washington Smokers Quit Smoking

Despite significant progress, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the US.  The good news is that 7 out of 10 smokers want to quit smoking. That is why since 2012 CDC has been educating the public about the consequences of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke and encouraging smokers to quit through a federally funded, national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers®. The campaign features former smokers suffering from the real consequences of smoking.

The Tips® campaign connects smokers with resources to help them quit, including a quitline number (1-800-QUIT-NOW) which routes callers to their state quitline. The Washington quitline provides free cessation services, including counseling and medication. These services are effective in improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.

1-800-QUIT-NOW

“I was thinking about relapsing today and the new commercials came on. It changed my mind real fast. You don’t understand the power of these commercials until you have made the decision to quit. Terrie Hall makes me cry every time . . . that could easily be me.”

–Justin: January 2016

Incoming calls to the Washington state quitline increased by an average 25% during the 2020 Tips® campaign. The Washington state quitline received a total of 4,071 calls from March 23rd – October 8th during the 2020 Tips® campaign.

Washington Tobacco Prevention & Control Programs Reduce Healthcare Costs

Tobacco prevention and control activities are a public health “best buy.” Evidence-based, statewide tobacco control programs that are comprehensive, sustained, and accountable have been shown to reduce the number of people who smoke, as well as tobacco-related diseases and deaths. For every dollar spent on tobacco prevention, states can reduce tobacco-related health care expenditures and hospitalizations by up to $55. The longer and more states invest, the larger the reductions in youth and adult smoking. A comprehensive statewide tobacco control program includes efforts to:

broken cigarette that is crossed out

1Prevent initiation of tobacco use especially among youth and young adults

conference

2 Promote cessation and assist tobacco users to quit

No smoking

3 Protect people from secondhand smoke