Smokefree DC is a citizen-based group whose goal is to promote smokefree environments in Washington, DC.

Tobacco use is leading cause of preventable death in D.C.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the District of Columbia, a new report by the city’s Department of Health finds.

According to the report, nearly half of all deaths in the District are preventable. Tobacco use is responsible for a third of preventable deaths and 16.6 percent of all deaths in D.C.

Other causes of preventable death in the District include poor diet and inactivity (15.1 percent of all deaths), infections (4.6 percent), alcohol use (2.9 percent), firearms (2.7 percent), medical errors (also 2.7 percent), toxic agents (2.1 percent), sexual behavior (0.8 percent), illicit drugs (0.8 percent), motor vehicles (0.6 percent) and lack of insurance (0.6 percent).

The report is the first of its kind for the District, which analyzed vital statistics and other data. Note the difference between “cause of preventable death” and “cause of death” – the leading causes of death in the District are heart disease, cancer and cerebrovascular diseases.

The District’s findings mirror what’s going on nationally, the report notes.

Unfortunately, while the report is thick with numbers, it lacks a strong call to action; the strongest sentence (the last in the report) merely says the challenge is to educate people to encourage behavioral changes and provide people with skills and a healthy environment so they can make healthy lifestyle choices.

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