Fewer Young Adults Smoking in US

Smoking rates in US did not change much but fewer young adults are smoking

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Want to save nearly half a million people in the US from dying each year? Get them to stop smoking. Fortunately, fewer young adults are smoking.

A recent CDC report found that the number of overall smokers in the US did not change from 2010 to 2011.

But there has been a 5-percentage-point drop in 18- to 24-year-old smokers since 2005.

"Quit smoking ASAP."

The report, led by Israel Agaku at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used data from 33,014 adults in the 2011 National Health Interview Survey to make estimates on smoking in the US.

While 19.3 percent of American residents smoked in 2010, the slight drop to 19 percent in 2011 is not a significant change.

That means that approximately 43.8 million adults in the US are currently smokers, and 78 percent of these smoke every day.

However, there was a drop among young adults: 18.9 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds smoked in 2011 compared to 24.4 percent in 2005. There is also some evidence that a small proportion of daily smokers may be smoking fewer cigarettes each day.

While 12.6 percent of daily smokers were having 30 or fewer cigarettes a day in 2005, that number dropped to 9.1 percent in 2011.

At the same time, there was an increase in the percentage of smokers who have only one to nine cigarettes per day: from 16.4 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2011.

More males (21.6 percent) than females (16.5 percent) reported smoking, and the age group that smokes the most is 25 to 44 (22.1 percent). Almost a third of adults living below the federal poverty level (29 percent) were smokers, and a quarter (25 percent) of those who have a disability reported smoking.

Just over half (52 percent) of survey respondents who were currently smokers or who had quit the year before said they had attempted to quit for at least two days last year.

The report notes that lowering the proportion of daily US smokers to 12 percent by the year 2020 will require more anti-smoking measures, such as anti-tobacco media campaigns, higher prices on tobacco products, smoke-free legislation for workplaces and public places and better access to smoking cessation help.

The report noted that approximately 443,000 adults die in the US every year from smoking-related illnesses, costing $96 billion in medical expenses and $97 billion in lost productivity.

This report was published in the November 9 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 12, 2012
Last Updated:
November 15, 2012