Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Weekly News Conference – Drop in Adult Smoking Rates
October 21, 2004
Joining me today is Washington State Secretary of Health Mary Selecky and Christie Driskell, who is a cancer survivor.
Five and one half years ago, April 1999, Mary and I stood together to announce the horrible toll tobacco use was taking on our state’s youth and adults. Our goal was to decrease tobacco use in Washington state. We created a 10-year account to fund smoking reduction programs. I’m pleased to announce today that Washington has emerged as a national leader in fighting tobacco use.
Our work encouraging kids not to smoke and helping adults quit, providing secondhand smoke education, healthcare provider training, and public awareness has been very effective.
· Washington now has the 10th lowest adult smoking rate in the nation. Just five years ago we were 20th.
· We’ve seen major declines in tobacco use among youth and pregnant women.
o 1999-2002 10th grade smoking has dropped by 40 percent.
o 12th grade smoking has dropped by 36 percent.
o The percentage of pregnant women smoking has dropped by 23 percent in our most recent survey (2001).
· Additionally, adult rates have dropped by 12 percent from 1999-2003. All this despite $800 million spent to promote smoking.
We’ve partnered with many organizations throughout the state in reducing tobacco use.
· We worked with 39 counties and 26 federally recognized tribes to establish local tobacco programs;
· We created tobacco prevention programs for all school districts;
· We partnered with the Liquor Control Board, retail trade associations and local health departments to decrease sales of cigarettes to minors; and
· We worked with the Centers for Disease Control on the tobacco plan we put together in 2000.
We’re making progress, but we know there’s more work to do.
Despite the program’s achievements, tobacco use still remains the leading cause of preventable death in the nation. Tobacco-related diseases kill about 8,000 people every year in Washington, more than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car accidents, murders, suicides and fires combined.
With sustained funding of the program over the course of 10 years, we could see more significant impacts such as:
· Tobacco use among adults decreasing by 26 percent;
· Resulting in 250,000 adults living longer, healthier lives; and
· Estimated cost savings to taxpayers ranging in several billions of dollars ($3 billion) in future state health care costs.
Thank you and now we'll take your questions.