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Tobacco Facts

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Every year in California, Secondhand Smoke causes over 400 lung cancer deaths, over 3,600 cardiac deaths, about 31,000 episodes of asthma, about 1,600 cases of low birth weights in newborns and over 4,700 cases of premature births. Smoking costs an estimated $228 million annually in medical expenses in Contra Costa County alone. Over 6,500 people (smokers and non-smokers) die each year in Contra Costa County from smoking related diseases. Despite these risks, approximately 46 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers. For more detailed data on the harmful effects of tobacco, click the links below.

Compiled by the Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project
May 2014

1. Number of people who die from smoking related diseases each year
Nationally 438,000 Overall
400,000 from Smoking
38,000 from Secondhand Smoke
California 36,684 Overall
32,484 from Smoking
4,200 from Secondhand Smoke
Contra Costa 6,569 Overall
2. Smoking cost an estimated $228 million annually in medical expenses in Contra Costa County alone.

3. Each cigarette smoked will take an average of 11 minutes of your life.

4. California has the lowest smoking rate (14.3%) in the United States.

5. Percentage of California adults who smoke.
  1. Among the African American population 21%
  2. Among the Non-Hispanic White population 16%
  3. Among the Hispanic/Latino population 16.7%
  4. Among the Asian/Pacific Islander population 16.1%

6. Percentage of current adult smokers who report that they are thinking about quitting:
  1. 77% within the next 6 months
  2. 43% within the next 30 days

7. The peak years of youth smoking initiation are between 6th and 7th grade, or between the ages of 11 and 12 years.

8. 90% of adult smokers who start smoking at or before age 18.

9. Number of youth under 18 who become regular smokers every year
  • Nationally - 400,000
  • California - 36,600

10. Number of youth under 18 who will die prematurely from cigarette use:
  • Nationally 6 million who are now alive
  • California 596,000 who are now alive

11. 34% of youth who start smoking as a result of tobacco advertising.

12. Rates of Illegal Sales of Tobacco Products to Minors:
  • California 12.6%
  • Unincorporated area of Contra Costa 7%
  • Contra Costa County 22.5%

13. 17% of Medi-Cal eligible mothers in Contra Costa County smoke throughout their pregnancies

14. 12% or 1,114,000 of California children ages 0 - 17 are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.

15. Number of California children who suffer from the following due to secondhand smoke exposure each year:
a. Low birthweight 1,200 - 2,200
b. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) 120
c. Middle ear infection 78,600 - 188,700
d. New cases of asthma 960 - 3,120
e. More severe asthma 200,000 - 1,000,000 children
f. Bronchitis or pneumonia in babies under 18 mos. 750 - 15,000 hospitalizations, 16 - 25 deaths

16. Amount spent annually by the tobacco industry on advertising and promotions:
  • Nationally $15.5 billion
  • California $843.8 million

17. In 2000, Philip Morris spent:
  • $115 million on philanthropy
  • $150 million advertising its philanthropy