Cowlitz County continues to have a high number of smokers, with more than 24 percent of adults lighting up, but new statistics show they're exposing fewer people to their secondhand smoke.

"We've dropped a lot since 2003" (when the state started keeping statistics,) said Jessica Bell, tobacco control coordinator for Cowlitz County.

According to research released last week by the state Department of Health, the number of Cowlitz County adults reporting exposure to secondhand smoke at home dropped from 17.7 percent in 2003 to 11.1 percent in 2007 and 2008, the department's most recent statistics.

"Holding steady is better than increasing," Bell said, referring to the last two years stats. "Of course we'd like to see a decrease because that means we're not having smoke in the home around children."

Statewide, the secondhand smoke exposure rate dropped from 19.3 percent in 2000 to 7.6 percent in 2008. State officials say the Department of Health's comprehensive Tobacco Prevention and Control Program is on target to meet its goal of reducing in-home secondhand smoke exposure to 6 percent or less by 2013.

"The new research confirms an encouraging trend," said Tim Church, spokesman for the state's Department of Health.

Bell and other health officials attributed the drop partially to landlords banning smoking in their rentals.

"We have some properties that have chosen to do (totally) smoke-free apartments," she said. "It's not only a health issue, but it cuts down on the cost of turning over apartments. It's expensive to paint and replace carpets because of smoking."

Rates of secondhand smoke exposure at home were higher in neighboring counties. Pacific County had the highest rate among local counties — and the second highest in the state — with 16.9 percent of adults reporting exposure to secondhand smoke in their home. Wahkiakum County reported 15.8 percent. Lewis County was at 11.8 percent, just slightly higher than Cowlitz County.

Stevens County in Eastern Washington had the highest rate in the state, at 17.8 percent.

Despite a healthy statewide drop in overall secondhand smoke exposure, an estimated 370,000 adults statewide still report that someone smokes inside their home. People from low-income or low-educational backgrounds are nearly twice as likely to report someone smoking inside their home, health officials say.

The state Department of Health is focusing educational campaigns on renters, who are more likely to be low-income than residents of owner-occupied homes. The rate of smoking inside the home among all renters is 12.5 percent, more than double the 6 percent rate among homeowners.

Bell said there are more ways to reduce exposing others to secondhand smoke than just smoking outside the home.

"We know now there's a thirdhand smoke that stays in your hair and on your clothing that can be just as dangerous to others," she said. "We encourage people to use smoking jackets when you leave the house, which you leave outside, that way you don't bring secondhand chemicals inside the house."

In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General released a landmark report warning that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that eliminating smoking indoors is the only way to fully protect people where they live and work.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 87 percent of Washington homes have a no-smoking rule — the fourth highest rate in the nation. However, 18 percent of adult smokers with children at home report that smoking occurs indoors.

Children are more susceptible to the effects of respiratory diseases caused or worsened by secondhand smoke, including asthma and bronchitis. Because they're small, they breathe more rapidly than adults and take in more secondhand smoke when exposed.

(30) comments

Get well soon
Get well soon

Smoking is a fools hobby. How much does a pack cost $6? You get .25 cents of product and get hit with a Tax aimed at the poor and uneducated. At $6 a pack and if you smoke a pack a day. That would be $2190 a year. That's a five day, five star trip a year to Hawaii your inhaling. Or a block buster of a Las Vegas trip. Or the greatest Christmas for your kids ever. Is that worth it? I'm sure the angry responses justifying how rewarding your smoking is to you and your family will start rolling in.


24%? No surprises here. After all, this is Cowlitz County.


Yes it’s Cowlitz County, but as a community we shouldn't be okay with having one of the highest tobacco rates in the state. As a community we need to work together and get healthier. Quitting tobacco is the by far the best thing you can do for your health.

Longview 88

Not surprising. This is about the only area where I see people so addicted to their cigarettes that they will extinguish them, then walk around inside buildings with unlit cigarettes in their mouths. And then, in Longview, we have the issue of Oregonians who show a complete disregard for Washington's no smoking lawa and feel that the laws don't apply to them. I have personally had to ask people from Oregon (according to their car) to not smoke by the door of my workplace several times.

independent 09

It would be interesting to know the percentage that are on welfare.


Yes, the evil, evil smokers. How dare they have a habit that pays for good part of state taxes; a significantly taxed item that they cannot use in bars, indoors, at work on break, in public, parks, around schools, around hospitals, and now we're trying to pass legislation keeping them from smoking in their cars and at home. Yet people are angry when they go to Oregon to purchase, thus putting money in to the Oregon economy instead of ours. Yeah, it's smokers that are the problem.


"Why RU crushing those dried leaves? What's with the toilet paper? Now you're rolling the leaves into the paper cylinder. So why RU sticking the damn thing between your lips? OMG! Now UR lighting a match to the end of it? Why are you sucking on that thing? Why all that stinky smoke and why are you coughing so much? What the Hell's wrong with you?"


*During 2000–2004, cigarette smoking was estimated to be responsible for $193 billion in annual health-related economic losses in the US ($96 billion in direct medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity).
*The total economic costs with cigarette smoking are estimated at $10.47 per pack of cigarettes sold in the US
*Cigarette smoking results in 5.1 million years of potential life lost in the US
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unfortunately, Tobacco is a community problem.


Moofed-look at the flip side of the coin for a minute. How much of the non smokers dollar gets used to pay for the medical treatment of those smokers? Or the medical treatment of those who don't smoke because they are exposed to those who do? Babies who suffer life long medical issues because the mother wasn't smart enough or respectful enough (take your pick) of her unborn child and puffed away thru her entire pregnancy? Don't forget frivilous lawsuits from victims families that clog courts

Castle Rocker

Moofed-Who said smokers were evil? Not real bright maybe, but not evil. And they are definitely a drag on the economy. Most are poor. Which means the hospital bills are paid for by taxpayers. I've been behind smokers in line at the grocery store that pay with food stamps for their food and then pull out the cash to buy their cigs. Their unemployment checks are paid by taxpayers. So yes, smokers are highly taxed, but they are a bigger tax drain.


I wonder... If I were to take a picture of people smoking illegally and give it to the police, would anything happen? They continue to smoke just outside my business's front door and I'm pissed about it. I don't want them to get another warning. I want them removed & fined.


I find it amazing that most of you are worried about who is smoking and where there doing it. Someone in an earlier post said 193 billion were lost through healthcare and lost production in a 5 year period. The lost production side of the figure is kind of iffy because it is money never earned in the first place. Taxes on tobacco far exceed that 193 billion in just one year as they're worth 218 billion in taxes annually. I don't buy for a second that non-smokers are paying for it.

Law is LAW

I love smokers argument how they contribute so much to society by paying for such a high Taxed product.You are so giving. Truth is my property taxes don't go down when more sigs get sold. The Tax benefits never manifest into lower taxes for the nonsmokers. I paid $11800 dollars in income taxes last year. Not including my property taxes that bought your kid's free lunch; While you spent the money on sigs. More poor renters smoke then well off home owners.We pay for more of the greater good 4 all.


People, people, people. Slippery slope here. Good arguments with health costs, second hand smoke, caring about peoples health. Your poison Happy Meals, salt, liquor, candy bars, you-name-it. They are next. Don't believe it. Just wait. The "controllers" are on a roll and we are being left in their wake.


Oregonians? They have pretty much the same laws as Washington.

It's a habit, plain and simple, no rights, no real moral or ethical argument. Just something some people like to do.
There is little consistency in how we deem substance in this country.
We peddle and celebrate a liquid drug so volatile and addictive, and we bottle and market an alkaloid stimulant so potent it sinful in some religions, yet we put it in kids' drinks.

Mind you, you hear very little of caffeine invoked crimes... still

Uncle Walt

attababy: Get a little water gun or squirt bottle, fill it with water, and use it on the cigarette of anyone smoking within the prohibitted area. Or just yank the cigarette out, and toss it on the ground.

Working Mom

To Independent 09: Its nice to know I'm not alone in that thought. I am a single working mom with one disabled child. I get very little help from the state (aprox $100.00 in foodstamps) so I have to hit the food banks to help out at times. Most of the people in line at the food banks are smoking and some have the nerve to show up with starbucks coffee. If they can afford smokes and Coffee then why are they at a food bank? For the record I don't smoke, have cable or internet.


I agree with (independent 09)...let's do an article in the paper about that- inquiring minds want to know. I bet it's worse! yup... this is Cowlitz County..


Uncle Walt, although I applaud anyone with a pro-active view, what you suggest is assault. Everyone is within their rights to make a comment to another person. To lay hands on them, no. Perhaps holding your breath and grasping your throat while falling to the ground, as if having a seizure, might scare them off. Doubt it though. You might try spraying air freshener as you walk by. Embarassment works wonders where words fail.


The most irritating thing about smokers (apart from the smell) is the fact as an employee they require cigarette breaks and as an employer you are not able to discriminate against them.
Why should they be treated differently than a non-smoking employee - or should we give the non-smokers time to stand around outside every hour or so?
Personally if you want to smoke, feel free to waste your money, but don't expect to be able to do so in a work environment where other people have to smell it.


try it uncle walt,,,see what happens,,you wont be so tough when your arrested for assault,,snow baller...look and see how much taxes are paid from smokers. I should take you for a misuora boat ride.


Common_Sense, there is not one law on the books that require an employer to give a smoker any break that a non-smoker doesn't receive. Law is LAW, just because I smoke you think you bought my kids free lunch? Nice predigest you display. No your property taxes probably don't go down when I buy them. Maybe you should ask your state congressmen what there really doing with all that tax revenue because a very small percentage of it goes to prevention and quitting programs. Continued..


Our state has been wasting the money. There are far more non-smokers than smokers so the majority don't pay a tabacco tax. Since most of you don't pay it you probably don't really think about that tax money so they squander it because it easy money to do it with and no one will think about the existance of that revenue. We only think about the taxes we do pay.


One more thing to finish my rant, people were smoking long before welfare and foodstamps so to say mostly poor people smoke is just another hyped-up sterotype. I don't see how poor people can afford them. Sorry about the many posts but all you people against smoking sterotypes riled me up because I didn't fit one you threw out.

atheism is Freedom

Common_Sense again i have to ask you to change your name. By law an employer does not have to let you have cigarette breaks. They only have to give you access to a bathroom. Also your employer can mandate that you stay on the property during your lunch break. I worked for a place that didnt give breaks nor did it allow me to leave for lunch. I called labor and Industry's. They said they are in there full rights.

Law is LAW

dManeman- Adults with 16 or more years of education had the lowest smoking prevalence (11.3 percent). Adults with 9 to 11 years of education had higher smoking prevalence (36.8 percent) compared to adults with fewer or more years of education. Smoking prevalence was higher among adults living below the poverty level (32.3 percent) than those living at or above the poverty level (23.5 percent). Just GOOGLE "Demographics of tobacco use" I didn't buy your kid's free lunch. Just your frends'


dManeMan - If you don't think that most smokers are low-income, just take a good look at the people standing on LCCs sidewalks smoking. They look like the same smokers standing outside WorkSource and the DSHS office in Kelso. There's a woman on my block who is constantly trying to trade her food stamps for cash for a pack of cigarettes. In fact, EVERY SINGLE ONE of the smokers I know are getting food stamps, TANF, and/or are on HUD or section 8. Coincidence?


Here is your logic Law&Green- Since "most" smokers are "poor" and "look the same" let's trample all over them because they're poor and no one cares about them anyways. They don't even deserve to just smoke anywhere outside either anymore while Weyhauser and Fibre spew more pollutants in the air that we all breathe all day and night. I don't want to inconviently experience your second hand smoke outside a couple times a year outside for a half a second. Never mind my exhaust fumes from by big SUV


It's not about smoker's "rights" or people "not caring" about smokers. It's about priorities. If you can't afford to buy your kids new shoes, you sure as heck shouldn't be smoking. Smokers have the right to smoke...period. But there just have to be regulations that protect other people and promote smoking cessation. It's nasty and it kills you. Smokers know that but they're addicted. I understand. I used to smoke (but always where people couldn't see me).


It was only when LCC made the campus non-smoking that I quit. I work and go to school there and it became incredibly inconvenient to get a cigarette. I quit that same month. Eventually it will become so inconvenient to smoke that people will just STOP doing it! It's for their own good...AND everybody else's. Who do you think pays the medical bills for those smokers standing outside DSHS and WorkSource?

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