CDC: Adult Smoking Rates Drop a Little
Article date: September 12, 2011
By Stacy Simon
The number of adult smokers in the U.S. declined slightly between 2005 and 2010, and those who do smoke are smoking fewer cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, cigarette smoking is still widespread and rates are still higher than needed to meet federal anti-smoking goals by 2020.
Fewer Smokers, Fewer Cigarettes
The statistics show that 19.3% of Americans aged 18 and older were smokers in 2010, down from 20.9% in 2005. That translates to approximately 3 million fewer people smoking than if there had been no decline, according to the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Of those who smoked, 78.2% smoked every day.
Among smokers, there is a trend toward puffing fewer cigarettes. The proportion of those who smoked more than 30 cigarettes per day decreased from 12.7% in 2005 to 8.3% in 2010. The proportion of those who smoked less than 10 cigarettes increased from 16.4% in 2005 to 21.8% in 2010.
"Now, while that is a reflection of fewer cigarettes being smoked, the fact is that the only safe thing to do is to quit smoking entirely,” said CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden, in a news briefing. “Quitting smoking is the most important thing that a smoker can do to live a longer, healthier life. Smokers not only die much younger than nonsmokers, but for the years that they're alive, they feel much older. "
More Progress Needed
Even though smoking rates declined during the 5-year study period, year-to-year decreases were inconsistent, and cigarette smoking remains widespread. One in 5 adults was a smoker in 2010.
As part of the federal “Healthy People” initiative, the US Department of Human Services has set 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. One of the goals is to reduce smoking in the US to less than 12%. But if the current pattern continues, smoking rates will not fall below 17%.
Part of the problem is that smoking remains higher among some population subgroups. Smoking rates are higher in the South and Midwest and lower in the West. Smoking is more common among people who have less education and those who live below the poverty level. And more men than women are likely to smoke.
Costs of Smoking
Each year, cigarette smoking causes around 443,000 premature deaths in the United States and $193 billion in direct medical expenses and lost productivity, according to the CDC report. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Smoking is known to cause multiple types of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and other health problems.
Secondhand smoke is also dangerous, causing heart disease and lung cancer in adult non-smokers, and respiratory infections and decreased lung function in children. It’s also linked to sudden infant death syndrome.
More Can Be Done
John Seffrin of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said the findings show the need for strong tobacco laws.
"The study is also proof of the need for strong implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the law granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products. Larger, graphic warning labels, as mandated by the law, will be printed on cigarette packaging beginning in September 2012," Seffrin said.
The CDC report also calls for strategies that include increasing the price of cigarettes, implementing smoke-free laws in workplaces and public places, warning about the dangers of tobacco use, and enforcing restrictions on cigarette advertisements.
Frieden recommends that all states fully fund tobacco control programs.
“What we’ve seen also in different parts of the U.S. is that the states that have continued to implement effective tobacco control interventions have seen much more sustained and rapid declines in the number of adults and youth who smoke. So tobacco control works.”
The American Cancer Society can help if you're ready to quit smoking. See our Guide to Quitting Smoking or call us at 1-800-227-2345.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.
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