Tobacco-Related Deaths in the City of Austin

Each year, tobacco kills more people in Austin/Travis County than opioids, firearms, cocaine, alcohol, motor vehicle accidents, and fires combined.

Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death in Austin/Travis County, Texas, and the United States.

Tobacco-related deaths in the City of Austin*

Key Statistics:
  • The average age of death for deaths due to tobacco use occurring in the City of Austin is 71.
Race & Ethnicity:
  1. African-Americans make up 8% of the City of Austin population but 12% of deaths due to tobacco.
  2. Hispanics make up 35% of the City of Austin population but 11% of the deaths due to tobacco.
  3. Asian-Americans make up 6% of the City of Austin population but 1% of deaths due to tobacco.
  • Males make up 61% of tobacco-related deaths in Austin.
*Death due to tobacco use is indicated by a checkbox on the death certificate of an individual. Deaths from City of Austin Office of Vital Records are deaths that occur within the city limits.
Note: Population data come from the 2010 U.S. Census. Population values are for single-race categories and Hispanic ethnicity (of any race).
Tobacco-Related Deaths by Age
Distribution of Age at Death
The graph above shows the distribution of ages of individuals who died due to tobacco use in the City of Austin. It is a normal distribution centered around an average of 71. The 95% confidence interval* around the mean is 46 to 96 years. It indicates 95% confidence that the true population mean age of death due to tobacco (in the underlying population from which this sample was drawn) will fall in the interval 46 to 96 years.
Death due to tobacco use is indicated by a checkbox on the death certificate noting "Yes" or "Probably". Individuals may have multiple co-morbidities at the time of death, of which tobacco may have had a direct, additive or multiplicative effect. Tobacco-related morbidity can take decades to develop, thus deaths attributed to tobacco are generally not found among younger individuals.
*Confidence Intervals: For both continuous and dichotomous variables, the confidence interval estimate (CI) is a range of likely values for the population parameter based on the point estimate, in this case the sample mean age of death, the investigator's desired level of confidence (most commonly 95%) and the sampling variability or the standard error of the point estimate. A 95% confidence interval means that if we were to take 100 different samples and compute a 95% confidence interval for each sample, then approximately 95 of the 100 confidence intervals will contain the true mean value (μ). In practice, however, we select one random sample and generate one confidence interval, which may or may not contain the true mean. The observed interval (in this case 46 to 96) may over- or underestimate μ. Consequently, the 95% CI is the likely range of the true, unknown parameter.

Disparities in Tobacco Deaths

Tobacco-Related Deaths by Race & Ethnicity
Summary:  Non-Hispanic whites make up 76% of all deaths, while non-Hispanic African-Americans make up 12% of all deaths; Hispanics account for 11% of deaths, and non-Hispanic Asians 1%.
Summary:  Non-Hispanic whites make up 76% of all deaths, but 49% of the City of Austin population. African-Americans make up 12% of all deaths but only 8% of the city's population.
Tobacco-Related Deaths by Sex
Summary: 61% of tobacco-related deaths in the City of Austin are to males. There are 1.5 times more tobacco-related deaths among males than among females.
Smoking Prevalence in Travis County
Summary: Smoking prevalence has been decreasing in Travis County since 2011. It decreased from 16.3% of the population in 2011 to 11.1% in 2017. Decreased smoking prevalence can improve long term health outcomes, including reducing tobacco-related morbidity and mortality in a population.
    Austin Public Health - Disease Prevention & Health Promotion
The Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division of the department focuses on programs to screen for and prevent illnesses and health issues. The Chronic Disease & Injury Prevention unit works to promote health and quality of life and to prevent and control chronic disease within the local community, with a focus on active living, healthy eating, and tobacco-free lifestyles.