Health >> Tobacco >> Adults >> Adult Cigarette Smoking

Smoking rates have fallen dramatically since 2000 in the county as a whole. However, in South Region, after falling sharply to 2006, they have changed little since then.

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US, accounting for almost 1 in 5 deaths each year. Deaths from tobacco use exceed the total deaths from HIV, alcohol use, illegal drug use, motor vehicle injury, suicide, and murder. On average, from 2011-2015, 13% of King County adults were smokers.

  • Trends: From 2000 to 2015, adult smoking rates declined in almost every year, from 21% to 12%. However, in South Region, after declining sharply from 2000-2006, the smoking rate has changed little.
  • Region and city/neighborhood: From our latest data, the smoking rate in South Region (17%) exceeded rates in Seattle (13%) and East Region (9%).  4 of the 5 cities or neighborhoods with smoking rates above the county average—Auburn-South, SeaTac/Tukwila, Federal Way-Central/Military Rd, and Burien—are located in South Region. Smoking rates in Downtown Seattle were elevated as well.
  • Income: Smoking rates decreased as income increased. Adults with household income less than $15,000 were 4 times more likely than those with income at or above $75,000 to be current smokers.
  • Age: People age 65 and older (6%) were much less likely than the county average to smoke.  Smoking rates peaked in those aged 25 to 64.
  • Gender: Men were slightly more likely than women to smoke (15% and 12%, respectively).
  • Sexual orientation: One in four lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults smoke, a figure almost twice as high as the King County average.
  • Race and ethnicity: Approximately 3 out of 10 American Indian/Alaska Native residents were cigarette smokers. Black/African American residents were also more likely than average to smoke at 22%, while Asian residents were less likely at 8%.

Notes & Sources

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System collects information on the health and safety of Washington residents aged 18 and older. Every year, the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct the survey primarily through telephone interviews, including landline and cellphone numbers. To learn more about the survey, please go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/DataandStatisticalReports/DataSystems/BehavioralRiskFactorSurveillanceSystemBRFSS.

Numerator: People who responded “every day” or “some days” to the question: “Do you now smoke cigarettes every day, some days, or not at all?”

Denominator: All respondents who answered the question.

For information about teen tobacco use, see Teen Tobacco Use.

For more information about adult use of smokeless tobacco, see here