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Racial disparities in cigarette smoking may parallel disparities in health outcomes.

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., accounting for almost 1 in 5 deaths each year. Deaths from tobacco use exceed the total of deaths from HIV, alcohol use, illegal drug use, motor vehicle injury, suicide, and murder.

Averaging survey data from 2009, 2010, and 2011, 11% of King County adults were current smokers.

  • Adults ages 65 and older were half as likely as younger adults to smoke cigarettes.
  • Smoking varied by race/ethnicity:
    • Only 1 in 20 Asians were smokers – the lowest rate of all race/ethnicity groups.
    • More than 1 in 5 Black, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and multiple-race adults were current smokers.  Some of these disparities may be due to differences in relapse rather than differences in desire to quit smoking.
    • Compared to other large metropolitan counties in the United States, King County has the largest racial disparities in adult smoking. See link to Pubic Health Data Watch below.
  • Men were more likely to smoke than women.