Adult Smoking at All Time Low

Posted: 12/6/2016

For the first time since record keeping began 50 years ago, the number of Americans who smoke cigarettes has dropped below 40 million.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of cigarette smokers declined to 15 percent from 21 percent. There were significant reductions in smoking across all ages, races and ethnicities, socioeconomic levels and regions of the country.

In 2005, there were 45.1 million smokers in the country. By 2015 there were 36.5 million.

Sixteen percent of men and 14 percent of women smoked in 2015, down from 24 percent and 17 percent in 2005.

Smoking declined most sharply in the youngest age groups. But 13 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, 18 percent of 25- to 44-year-olds, 17 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds, and 9 percent of those over 65 were still smoking.

There was almost no difference between the percentages of non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks who smoked — around 16.5 percent — and 10 percent of Hispanics smoked cigarettes.

Medicaid recipients are one of the few groups in which smoking has slightly increased.

Smoking rates are lower among the more educated. More than 34 percent of people with a G.E.D. were smokers. Almost 20 percent of high school graduates smoked, 17 percent of those with an associate degree, 7 percent of college graduates, and 4 percent of those with a graduate degree.

Rates of smoking among people living below the poverty line were nearly twice as high as rates among those living at or above it.

Geography made a difference, too. Rates in the Midwest were 19 percent, compared with 15 percent in the South, 14 percent in the East and 12 percent in the West.

“We’ve made commendable progress toward reducing smoking, the leading cause of death in this country,” said Brian A. King, a deputy director in the office of smoking and health at the C.D.C.

“But there’s still work to do,” he added. “If we’re going to make a difference, we need to implement what we know works: price increases, mass media attention and prevention services.”

Source: The New York Times, December 5, 2016