Despite state efforts to convince tobacco users to kick their habits, nearly 15 percent of Solano County’s 400,000 residents smoke, state officials say, ranking it seventh highest among the nine Bay Area counties.
The county’s 14.6 percent smoking rate is higher than the statewide 13.1 percent rate, the state Department of Public Health said.
“Smoking prevalence tends to be higher in rural counties than urban counties,” Dr. Mark Horton, California’s public health director, told The Reporter newspaper in Vacaville.
Horton said the state would undertake an investigation of why smoking prevalence was higher in rural areas (15.9 percent statewide) than in urban counties (10.9 percent).
The new numbers were revealed Monday at a press conference called by state officials in Sacramento, including Horton and Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Kimberly Belshé.
Officials also reported statewide tobacco figures that showed more men (15.6 percent) smoking than women (10.7 percent) and lower smoking rates for college graduates and people with incomes higher than $150,000.
“I can see from a surgeon general’s prospective there are some concerns,” Flores-Workman of the Solano County Tobacco Prevention and Education Program told the newspaper.
She said this year’s report marked the first time Solano County data was analyzed independently by the state.
In the past, Solano County had been included in a larger sample that included San Mateo County data.
Flores-Workman said that not only was the county more rural than others in the Bay Area, it also was home to Travis Air Force Base, and military personnel smoke at a higher rate than the national average.
Workman’s program sponsors anti-smoking educational efforts around the county, including at schools and public housing projects.
A new round of free “Kick The Butts!” classes are scheduled to begin in January, she said.
More information about getting help to kick the smoking habit is available online at www.tobaccofreesolano.org or by phone at 707-784-8900.