The prevalence of adult cigarette smoking has hit at an all-time low since 1965, the year the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) began keeping track, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In fact, the adult smoking rate has dropped from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 17.8 percent in 2013.
“There is encouraging news in this study, but we still have much more work to do to help people quit,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.
“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.”
Although overall rates have dropped, cigarette smoking still remains high among the following groups: those below the poverty level, those with less education, multiracial Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, males, those who live in the South or Midwest, those who have a disability or limitation, and those who are lesbian/gay/bisexual.
Statistics on specific sexual orientation were gathered for the first time by the NHIS in 2013.
Among current smokers, the number of those who smoke every day dropped from 80.8 percent in 2005 to 76.9 percent in 2013. Among daily smokers, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day declined from 16.7 in 2005 to 14.2 in 2013. Daily smokers who smoked 20 to 29 cigarettes per day dropped from 34.9 percent in 2005 to 29.3 percent in 2013.
The number of those who smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, however, rose from 16.4 percent in 2005 to 23.3 percent in 2013, and those who smoke only on some days also increased from 19.2 percent in 2005 to 23.1 percent in 2013.
“Though smokers are smoking fewer cigarettes, cutting back by a few cigarettes a day rather than quitting completely does not produce significant health benefits,” said Brian King, Ph.D., a senior scientific advisor with CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.
“Smokers who quit before they’re 40 years old can get back almost all of the 10 years of life expectancy smoking takes away.”
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. For every person who dies this year from smoking, there are more than 30 individuals who suffer with a smoking-related disease.