Tobacco use causes nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths in the United States each year. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and causes more deaths than alcohol use, illegal drug use, firearm incidents, motor vehicle crashes and HIV/AIDS combined.
In Douglas County, about 1 in 7 adults identified themselves as a current smoker in 2013. The peak years for starting to smoke occurs among the very young, however. The peak years appear to be during sixth and seventh grades (ages 11-13), with many beginning even earlier. In 2013, 14.1% of Douglas County youths reported having smoked cigarettes at least once.
With funding support from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department oversees local initiatives to prevent death and disease from tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. The Health Department works closely with community partners, including the LiveWell Lawrence coalition and Douglas County schools.
Tobacco is big business. Research suggests awareness of tobacco products is highest due to exposure in retail environments.
In Douglas County, 77 of 93 licensed tobacco retailers participated in the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department Tobacco Retail Survey in April 2015. Of those surveyed, 74 percent used some form of Point-of-Sale advertising or promotion.
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