United States Tobacco Usage Is At An All Time Low

Tobacco cigarette smoking

Tobacco use harms nearly every organ of the body and causes detrimental health consequences. There is a risk of death from lung cancer and other diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and at least 13 other kinds of cancer. Statistics show that people in the USA are beginning to take these facts more seriously. Tobacco use is at an all-time low in the country since 1965 proving that more and more individuals are putting their health and wellness first.

A report published by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states: “Considerable progress has been made in reducing cigarette smoking among U.S. adults over the past half century: an estimated 14.0% of U.S. adults (34.3 million) were current cigarette smokers in 2017, representing a 67% decline since 1965.” In the early 1960s, around 42 percent of US adults smoked.

The data come from National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) completed by 26,742 adults. The results show that it’s not just cigarettes that are on the decline. Cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco are also of decreasing interest to American consumers.

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Some detailed statistics of the survey include:

  • Smoking among high school students was down to 9 percent, also a new low.
  • Of all users, 19 percent reported use of two or more tobacco products. Cigarettes and e-cigarettes were the most common combinations.
  • Men are more likely to use tobacco products than women.
  • Cigarettes remain the most popular, followed by cigars (3.8% of Americans), e-cigarettes (2.8%), smokeless tobacco (2.1%) and pipes (1%).
  • The most dramatic cigarette usage decline was among adults aged 18 to 24 years — 10.4 percent in 2017 compared with 13 percent in 2016.
  • The highest usage of any tobacco product was among people with annual household incomes under $35,000 at 26 percent, followed by people living with a disability at 25.0 percent, adults living in the Midwest at 23.5 percent and in the South at 20.8 percent, people who were divorced, separate or widowed at 23.1 percent, people with a General Education Development certificate at 42.6 percent, and American Indian and Alaska natives at 29.8 percent.
  • White people’s usage was 21.4 percent and black adults use was at 20.1 percent, with 24.8 percent of men and 14.2 percent of women smoking.
  • Tobacco usage disparity was more than double among those with serious psychological distress at 40.8 percent compared with those without at 18.5 percent.
Percentage of adults aged ≥ 18 years who were current cigarette smokers between 1965-2017 in the United States— National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

Percentage of adults aged ≥ 18 years who were current cigarette smokers between 1965-2017 in the United States— National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)

“The good news is that cigarette smoking has reached unprecedented lows, which is a tremendous public health win, down to 14 percent from over 40 percent in the mid-1960s,” said Brian King, senior author of the report and deputy director for research translation at the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. There are multiple factors contributing to this decline including support groups, and neighborhood-focused efforts such as interventions, community-wide smoke-free policies, and the elevated price of tobacco products.

Every cigarette you smoke takes away 14 minutes of your life.

The CDC supports the National Tobacco Control Program, and the Tips From Former Smokers campaign, which led to approximately half a million sustained quits among U.S. adult smokers during 2012–2015. There are resources to help smokers quit, including Smokefree.gov; the toll-free national quitline network (1-800-QUIT-NOW) and LiveHelp online.

“For more than half a century, cigarette smoking has been the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States,” said Dr. Norman E. Sharpless, the National Cancer Institute director. “Eliminating smoking in America would, over time, eliminate about one-third of all cancer deaths. “The persistent disparities in adult smoking prevalence described in this report emphasize the need for further research to accelerate reductions in tobacco use among all Americans.”

Tobacco smoking addiction can feel like being trapped

Even though this decline is wonderful news, the CDC’s report also shows that almost a fifth of Americans still use some kind of tobacco product. There is an overwhelming burden of death and disease brought upon by tobacco use. Every year an estimated 480,000 U.S. adults die from cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke exposure alone (not to mention all the other forms of tobacco use). Therefore, continued efforts to reduce all forms of tobacco use is crucial.

Smokers who quit before age 40 reduce their chance of dying too young by about 90 percent. Those who quit by age 45–54 reduce their chance of dying too early by about two-thirds. Take control of your health by quitting and staying smoke-free. You’ll also be protecting your loved ones from dangerous secondhand smoke.