Smoking Rate Hit All-Time Low

Cigarette smoking rate dropped to new low but still had not hit nationwide goal

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Efforts to reduce smoking like public bans and media campaigns may be having an effect. The number of Americans who smoke may be smaller than it has ever been.

In a new study, smoking among adults was at its lowest level since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began recording such statistics 50 years ago. But smoking remained high among certain populations.

Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of disease and death in the US, the CDC reported. Smoking raises the risk of cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness.

Despite wide public knowledge about the dangers of smoking, people continue to smoke. This new CDC report offers encouraging news, however, said Tim McAfee, MD, MPH, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.

"There is encouraging news in this study, but we still have much more work to do to help people quit," Dr. McAfee said in a press release. "We can bring down cigarette smoking rates much further, much faster, if strategies proven to work are put in place like funding tobacco control programs at the CDC-recommended levels, increasing prices of tobacco products, implementing and enforcing comprehensive smoke-free laws, and sustaining hard-hitting media campaigns."

Ahmed Jamal, MBBS, of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and colleagues conducted this recent research. These researchers estimated cigarette smoking prevalence among adults age 18 and older based on data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey.

They observed a decline in adults who smoked cigarettes of about 3 percent between 2005 and 2013. The number of smokers dipped from 20.9 to 17.8 percent of Americans during that time.

That meant that the smoking population fell from 45.1 million to 42.1 million people, Ahmed and team found.

The percentage of daily smokers also declined from about 81 percent of all smokers to 77 percent. Those who smoked daily were puffing less, too. The average number of cigarettes smoked per day slid from 16.7 in 2005 to 14.2 in 2013. While the percentage of daily smokers who smoked 20 to 29 cigarettes per day fell from about 35 percent to 29 percent, the proportion who smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes per day climbed from 16 to 23 percent.

These study authors said these numbers were heading in the right direction, but they pointed out that the numbers are short of a national target to reduce the number of adults aged 18 years and older who smoke cigarettes to 12 percent by the year 2020. That goal was set by Healthy People 2020, a federal organization that has set comprehensive goals and objectives for improving US health.

Smoking among certain groups also remained high, Ahmed and colleagues noted. Those groups included those living below the poverty level, those with less education, and those who lived in the South or Midwest.

About 480,000 Americans die from smoking-related illnesses every year, Ahmed and team wrote. They stressed, however, that about 7 out of 10 smokers indicated in surveys that they wanted to quit. Also, they noted that people at any age can experience health benefits by quitting smoking.

This report was published Nov. 28 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Ahmed and team disclosed no funding sources or conflicts of interest.


Review Date: 
November 29, 2014
Last Updated:
December 1, 2014