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Smoking rates were highest for those with the lowest incomes, the least education, and the least promising employment circumstances.

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.

Despite the high cost of cigarettes, smoking rates increased as income went down.

  • Adults in households earning less than $25,000 a year were 3 times more likely to smoke cigarettes than those whose household income was $75,000 or more.  Of the 15 largest counties in the nation, King County had the largest income disparities in adult smoking rates.
  • Those earning between $25,000 and $50,000 were twice as likely to smoke as those with income of $75,000 or more.
  • Compared to other large metropolitan counties in the United States, King County has the largest income disparities in adult smoking.  See link to Public Health Data Watch below.

Smoking rates were highest for those with the least education.  Compared to college graduates, smoking rates were:

  • 5 times greater for adults without a high school degree.
  • 4 times greater for high school graduates.
  • 3 times greater for those with some college but no degree.

Employment status was also a significant predictor of smoking. From highest to lowest rates of smoking:

  • More than 1 in 3 adults who were unable to work.
  • Almost 1 in 4 of unemployed adults.
  • 1 in 10 employed adults.
  • Fewer than 1 in 16 retired adults and homemakers or students.