Despite new efforts to reduce smoking tobacco in Washington state, 70,000 of young people smoke cigs and 50 of them start the smoking habit every day, according to state authorities, with American Indian youngsters showing the highest rates. U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky and other national, state and local health officials discussed teens cigarettes smoking at a town-hall conference on the University of Washington campus Thursday. The conference was part of a nationwide legal awareness initiative by the Department of Health and Human Services.
More than 1,200 residents die nationwide every day from smoking habit, Benjamin declared. Benjamin, who lost her mother to lung cancer because of smoking, argued that it’s her special mission for to reduce smoking tobacco especially among teenagers, as 88 per cent of all smokers begin to light up their first cigarette by age 18.
In Washington state, American Indian youngsters have the highest smoking rate, with 27 per cent of high-school seniors reporting in 2010 that they smoked within the last 30 days.
In King County, American Indian, Pacific Islander and Latino communities have the highest youth smoking rates, at 10 per cent or higher.
Although smoking tobacco in King County dropped in the mid-1990s and stalled in recent years, cigarettes still claims the lives of 1 in 5 inhabitants and costs the county $343 million yearly in health-care expenses and lost wages, according to Public Health, Seattle & King County.
“Our main aim is inter-generational,” explained panelist Jesse Youckton, 26, of Olympia. “It requires the whole family and whole community to address the issue. We look up to our elders, so we follow their lead.”