Smoking Rates Down in Columbia County

Oregon Health Authority recently released the 2013 County Tobacco Factsheets, and Columbia County shows improvement compared to the 2011 Factsheet.

The percentage of teens who smoke is down, especially for 8th graders. In Columbia County 5 percent of 8th graders smoke (state rate is 6 percent) and 17 percent of 11th graders (state rate is 12 percent). This is a decrease of 6 percent among 8th graders and a 3 percent decrease among 11th graders from 2011.

The number of babies born to smoking mothers has also decreased from 20 percent in 2011 to 18 percent in 2013. “In Oregon four out of five smokers want to quit, but struggle to break the addiction” said Ashley Baggett, Tobacco Prevention & Education Coordinator. In Columbia County the quit attempts are up from 37 percent to 41 percent.

There is still a long way to go as the number of adults who smoke has risen from 6,318 in 2011 to 6,930 in 2013. However the trend is still lower when compared to the 7,143 people who smoked in 2009. Tobacco remains the number one preventable cause of death. 

The costs of smoking are rising as well. Over 1,930 people in our county suffer from serious illnesses caused by tobacco, and 99 died from tobacco in the past year. $18.7 million was spent on medical care for tobacco related illness, and another $16.4 million was lost in productivity.

Baggett says much of the improvement in prevention is due to a change in tactics by creating smoke-free and tobacco-free environments and raising the cost of tobacco. If you are interested in creating healthy spaces in our community, please contact Ashley at or (503) 397-4651×2007.

If you are interested in quitting tobacco help is available through the Oregon Quit Line. The Oregon Quit Line is highly successful in connecting smokers who want to quit with the local resources to help them at no cost. The Quit Line Teen Program is free for Oregonians 13 and older. Teens can connect online or by phone at the general Quit Line number. The numbers and websites are 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or Spanish: 1-877-2NO-FUME (1-877-266-3863) or The Quit Line is open seven days a week, 4:00 AM to 12:00 AM (Pacific Time).