Tobacco Overview

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States and around the world.1 Tobacco killed one hundred million people in the 20th century-and if current trends continue, it will kill one billion people in the 21st century.2

In the United States, tobacco use kills about 443,000 people per year- more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, suicides, and fires COMBINED.3,4 About 50,000 of these deaths result from exposure to secondhand smoke.5

These deaths and the economic costs associated with them are preventable!

Tobacco Use in Utah

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Approximately 220,000 Utah adults smoke cigarettes.
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Approximately 1,150 Utahns die every year due to tobacco-related illnesses.
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More than 11,000 Utah children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes.
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Nearly 80% of Utah smokers want to quit, without help only 7-8% are able to.
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As a result of smoking, Utah incurs approximately $663 million in direct medical expenses and lost productivity each year.
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Medicaid costs for treating smoking related diseases in Utah are $104 million annually.


For more information go to the latest Tobacco Prevention and Control in Utah Annual Report.

Tobacco Use and Disparities

A disparity describes a gap that exists between the overall population and a specific group (high levels of tobacco use, tobacco industry marketing, ethnicity, education, income, or other variable (lack of health insurance, neighborhood, occupation, etc.).

Though Utah's smoking rates are lowest in the nation, certain population groups, including people with lower income, fewer years of formal education, and some minority groups, have significantly higher smoking rates.

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Smoking disproportionately impacts Utahns with low incomes.
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Utahns with less than a high school degree are 7 times more likely to be current smokers than college graduates.
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African Americans and American Indians are twice as likely to be current smokers as whites.
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Utahns who live in frontier areas are twice as likely to be current smokers compared to Utahns living in rural areas.
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For detailed information on tobacco use within Utah's local health districts and small areas see the Utah Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Annual Report

A tobacco industry executive shamefully stated, "We don't smoke that [stuff]. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and stupid."6

Tobacco and Health 

"Tobacco is the only legal product that kills up to one-half of its regular users when consumed as intended by the manufacturer."7

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Number one preventable cause of death
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Significant source of disability
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Causes or exacerbates nearly every chronic condition. (see our fact sheets on Tobacco and Chronic Diseases).
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There is no safe tobacco product. The best health advice for tobacco users is to quit. See our Position Statement for more information on the risks and concerns of tobacco use as well as the use of new/emerging products.

A Winnable Battle

Reducing tobacco use is a winnable battle- a public health priority with known, effective actions for success. A combination of smoke-free laws, cigarette price increases, access to proven cessation services, and hard-hitting media campaigns reduces health care costs and saves lives.

Want to learn more? Visit CDC Winnable Battles focusing on tobacco use.

1. Centers for Disease Control."Tobacco Use: Targeting the Nation's Leading Killer," 2011. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 31 August 2011 from:
2. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. "Tobacco Overview." Accessed August 2011 from
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses-United States, 2000-2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008; 57(45):1226-8 Accessed 1 September 2011 from http//
4. McGinnis J, Foege WH. Actual Causes of Death in the United States. Journal of American Medical Association 1993; 270:2207-12 [cited 2011 Mar 11]
5. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. "Tobacco Overview."Accessed 31 August 2011 from
6. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, "Tobacco Company Marketing to African Americans." Accessed 1 September 2011 from factsheets/pdf/0208.pdf
7. World Health Organization. "Tobacco Free Initiative." Accessed 1 September 2011 from

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Facts and Information Pages


Take the Challenge.

Find a small, pocket-size notebook. Each time you want to a cigarette or chew, take out your notebook and write a few thoughts: what time is it, what's your mood, who are you with, where are you? Write in your journal each time you use tobacco, for up to 3 days. After you have 10 journal entries, review what you've written. See any patterns or trends?