Public Health – Seattle & King County

March 24, 2008

Contact: James Apa 206-205-5442; Matías Valenzuela 206-205-3331

17th U.S. Surgeon General keynotes national

KING COUNTY, WA – What’s new and next in tobacco prevention and cessation will be featured in Seattle, as over 300 tobacco prevention specialists and advocates will converge for Access 2008, a national conference hosted by Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Taking place over March 26 – 28, the conference will include a keynote address by Richard Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States (2002-2006), vice chairman of Canyon Ranch and president of the non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute. In 2006, Dr. Carmona issued the landmark report, “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General.”

“We have made exciting progress in bringing down the rates of smoking and reducing exposure to second-hand smoke, but our work is far from complete,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Tobacco use is becoming an issue of equity, as income, race and education levels increasingly are predictors of tobacco use. We need to attack the problem from this perspective.”

While overall smoking rates have continued to drop to 13% in King County, rates have remained at higher levels for people of lower income and educational levels as well as for ethnic groups such as African Americans and American Indians/Alaskan Natives. A person who earns $25,000 and below is over two times as likely to smoke as those who earn more than $50,000, while someone without a high school diploma is four times as likely to smoke as a college graduate.

Health professionals, educators, scientists, researchers, law enforcement members, and policy-makers from across the United States and Canada will be in attendance. The conference will provide participants with the latest tools and inspiration to cultivate healthier communities toward a tobacco-free future.

Participants will hear from Dr. Jeff Linkenbach, Director of the Montana Social Norm Project called MOST of Us, who will be presenting a keynote session on transforming social norms for a tobacco-free future. King County Executive Ron Sims, Dr. Fleming, and Terry Reid, Manager of the Washington State Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, will also provide opening remarks.

Local innovations and experiences will be shared by conference participants through facilitated sessions on topics ranging from workplace cessation to smoke-free housing.

This is the second Access Conference hosted by Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Tobacco Prevention Program. Other major sponsors include the Washington State Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention Program, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Network on Tobacco Prevention and Poverty, Pfizer, and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center.

Editors: The Access 2008 conference will be held at the Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Avenue in Seattle. The entire conference is open to media, but credentials must be picked up at the sign-in table. Dr. Carmona’s keynote will be on Friday, March 28 from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Executive Sims, Dr. Fleming, Mr. Reid and Dr. Linkenback will address the Wednesday, March 26 morning session from 8:15 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.

A full agenda and more information on the conference are available at

Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health – Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.