Smoking (Cigarettes and Vaping)

A smoker standing by their car

Smoking (Cigarettes and Vaping) Profile

Download an in-depth health indicator profile with additional analysis and findings on smoking (cigarettes and vaping) in Santa Barbara County.

Full Analysis

Smoking tobacco is associated with numerous health problems and is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking reduces overall health and contributes to increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other diseases and conditions. Smoking also leads to increased absenteeism from work, health care utilization, and costs.1

Although smoking tobacco has decreased in recent years, there has been an increase in the use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping. E-cigarettes can contain harmful substances, including nicotine, and have profound impacts on the health of adolescents and young adults, greatly increasing their likelihood to smoke cigarettes in adulthood.2

Measure for Cigarette Smokers

The prevalence of current cigarette smoking status is based on two questions: "Have you smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your entire life?" and "Do you now smoke cigarettes every day, some days, or not at all?" Only those who answered "Yes" to the first question are asked about current smoking status.

Findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County CHNA

Santa Barbara County is below the HP 2020 target for current cigarette smokers at 11.5%, though the difference is not statistically significant. In 2019 there was a slight increase (2.2%) in current cigarette smoking compared to 2016 and it is now similar to Californians overall.

Additional smoking (cigarettes and vaping) findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County CHNA can be found in the Smoking Health Indicator Profile. Follow this link to learn more about the methods for health indicator profile analysis.

Figure 1. Percentage of Adults Reporting Current Cigarette Smoker Status by Demographic Group

Figure 1. 2019 Percentage of Adults Reporting Current Cigarette Smoker Status by Demographic Group

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Measure for Vaping

The prevalence of vaping is based on two questions. The first is: “Have you ever used an e-cigarette other electronic ‘vaping’ product, even just one time, in your entire life?” Those respondents that answered yes to the first question were also asked: “Do you now use e-cigarettes or other electronic ‘vaping’ products every day, some days, or not at all?”.

Figure 5. Percentage of Adults Reporting Current Vaping by Demographic Group

Figure 5. Percentage of Adults Reporting Current Vaping by Demographic Group

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Findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County Listening Tour

Cottage Health and its partners heard from a wide array of leaders and community members through a Listening Tour focused on behavioral health. A full Listening Tour report related to smoking (cigarettes and vaping) can be found in the Smoking Health Indicator Profile.

The harmful effects of smoking traditional cigarettes are well known. Less known are the long-term consequences of using electronic cigarettes. The CDC notes that e-cigarettes contain substances that harm the body and the devices can cause unintended injuries resultant from fires, explosions, and toxic exposure to concentrated vaping liquid.3 Tobacco cessation programs across the United States have been lauded as a public health win. However, service providers are finding that we must revisit how to educate the public on nicotine addiction.

Listening Tour participants described the elevated prevalence of tobacco and nicotine use made possible through vaping. As with alcohol use, use of e-cigarettes in Santa Barbara County is becoming increasingly normalized, according to Listening Tour participants. A YouthWell Coalition advocate reflected:

Quote from a YouthWell Coalition Advocate

“I think in the last two years, vaping and drinking have become very, very normalized. So, you’ll see everyone’s posting about it on social media. Yeah, it’s the cool thing to do. Or they’ll be posting about their withdrawals. They can’t go, like, five hours without it. They really, really can’t. And it’s hard to see people going through that.”

The past successes of tobacco cessation programs can inform how service providers and community leaders reeducate the public about the harms of nicotine, addiction, and the dangers of the e-cigarette devices themselves.

During the Listening Tour, community members and service providers alike demanded programs to raise awareness, provide education, and focus on prevention related to nicotine use, whether it is delivered through traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes. In addition, participants identified clear policy avenues to pursue, including regulating the available flavors in e-cigarettes that are designed to appeal to youth and restrict explicit marketing to youth and young adults.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Smoking & tobacco use. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults.” Accessed 18 September 2020.https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes).” Accessed 28 May 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html

Behavioral Health Listening Tour

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