There’s some very good news on the health front: The percentage of people in Island County who smoke is lower than the state average, and the number of smokers continues to dwindle as the years go by.
Statistics from the state Department of Health show that in 2006, only 15.3 percent of Island County residents were smokers. The statewide average was 17 percent, down from just over 22 percent in 1999.
The state agency estimates this reduction in the smoking rate will save $2.1 billion in future health care costs. More importantly, it means many thousands of individuals and their families will be spared the tragedy of lung cancer or some other disease brought on by smoking tobacco.
Government agencies and schools have been preaching the dangers of smoking for years and the message is sinking in, slowly but surely. Oldtimers can remember when most adults smoked. For proof, just watch any contemporary movie filmed in the ’50s and ’60s. In retrospect, it’s unbelievable how much cigarette smoking was going on in those days. Many of the stars of those movies died before their time due to the effects of cigarette smoke.
Smoking is getting less and less “cool” as the years go by, but it’s disturbing that young people continue to pick up this nasty habit. It will take more years of preaching and education, but progress to date gives us hope that some day the smoking rate will drop to near zero.