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News » Filed under: Smoking/Tobacco

Smoking Rate Declines For the First Time in Years

Article date: November 13, 2008

Here's one number Americans won't be upset to hear is down: the number of adult cigarette smokers in the U.S. has declined for the first time in four years, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC reports there were 43.4 million current smokers in the U.S. (19.8%) in 2007 -- a one percent decline from the 20.8% in 2006. The findings were based on data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

"These data tell us we have made exceptional progress in the effort to reduce and eventually eliminate the death, disease, and economic challenges that tobacco use brings on its users," said Thomas J. Glynn, PhD, American Cancer Society's director of cancer science and trends and international cancer control. "Adult tobacco user prevalence is now under 20 percent for the first time since tobacco use rates began to fall during the mid-1960s."

There are many possible reasons for the decline. Thanks to tougher legislation and higher prices for cigarettes, smoking may be less attractive to more and more people.

"This year's decline may especially reflect the efforts in recent years to raise cigarette prices through higher taxation and to increase quit attempts (and to protect nonsmokers) through more widespread support for smoke-free environments, the effects of which may take several years to measure," Glynn says.

Numbers were notably down for two subgroups: blacks (smoking declined from 23.0% in 2006 to 19.8% in 2007) and adults over 65 (10.2% in 2006 to 8.3% in 2007).

However, the report showed that significant disparities continue to persist by race/ethnicity and education level. American Indian and Alaska Natives continue to smoke in large numbers (36.4% smoked in 2007), as do people with GEDs and those below the poverty level.

"The good news is, we continue to see fewer people smoking," said Janet Collins, PhD, director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "The bad news is we need more people to quit. Quitting smoking is the most important step smokers can take to improve their health and protect the health of nonsmoking family members."

Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, and it's a major cause of heart disease, emphysema, and stroke. If you're one of the 43.4 million Americans who still smoke, November is the perfect time to quit. November 20th marks the American Cancer Society's 32nd annual Great American Smokeout, when smokers are encouraged to quit for at least 1 day. The day-long event offers smokers motivation, tools, and support to help them quit for good.

To learn more, visit the Great American Smokeout Challenge. Looking for help quitting right now? Contact the American Cancer Society (1-800-ACS-2345) for support. 


"Cigarette Smoking Among Adults – United States, 2007." Published online in the November 14, 2008 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 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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