Tobacco use data was released by the Washington State Department of Health today for every county in the state, and local health officials are paying attention.
"Last year our results showed an increase in adult cigarette smoking, and that concerned us," says Joan Brewster, the director of the Grays Harbor Public Health and Social Services Department. "We've been watching to see what this year's results would look like, and I'm pleased to see that those numbers appear to be down."
The 2009 tobacco use survey indicated that 19.7% of adults reported that they currently smoke cigarettes. This is the 5th highest rate in the state of Washington, but an improvement over previous rates, which, going back to 2003, have ranged from 24% to 29%.
"These reductions would indicate that about 1800 fewer adults living in Grays Harbor County are smoking this year when compared with 2003. This is great news, since our adult population has increased by almost 3000 during those same years."
Despite this encouraging sign, Brewster says that tobacco continues to be a high priority for public health in Grays Harbor. "Our rates of smoking among pregnant women have been and continue to be far too high – we currently are 8th highest in the state. And our rates of smokeless tobacco use have not improved measurably – they are the 3rd highest in the state. Today's news is positive, but we understand that we still have a lot of work to do."