Cigarette Smoking at Record Low in U.S.

Marlboro cigarettes pack

New data shows that only 14% of adults smoke cigarettes – a record low among U.S. adults.

According to researchers and industry experts, the new data shows proof that the ongoing efforts to decrease smoking rates in the country are successful.

According to the CDC, FDA and National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, there were an estimated 34 million U.S. adults who smoked cigarettes the last 30 days in 2017. The number has decreased from the 15.5% in 2016 and has also dropped 67% since 1965.

The largest decline in smoking can be seen in adults that are 18-24 years old. The age group went from 13% in 2016 to 10.4% in 2017. The overall tobacco usage among the group is 18.3%, which also includes 2.8% users of e-cigarettes.

The survey was conducted on 26,742 adults 18+. Cigarette users were measured as those who have smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their life along with every day or some days during the period of the study.

“This new all-time low in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults is a tremendous public health accomplishment — and it demonstrates the importance of continued proven strategies to reduce smoking,” said CDC director, Robert Redfield. “Despite this progress, work remains to reduce the harmful health effects of tobacco use.”

According to the CDC, the use of cigarettes among adults have been surveyed and measured since 1965. However, the usage of other tobacco products began in more recent years.

While cigarettes were the more commonly used tobacco product, the survey showed cigars at 14%, cigarillos at 3.8%, e-cigarettes at 2.8% and smokeless tobacco at 1%.

There are some groups out there that advocate vaping for helping to drop the number of cigarette users in the country. While some adults do use vaping to help kick the bad habits, there isn’t necessarily enough research to correlate the two. According to CDC official Brian King, there isn’t enough long term, rigorous research to say that vaping works at a population level.

“The jury’s still out on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes for helping people quit,” he says. “Although anecdotally we know that there are many people who are quitting using e-cigarettes, the plural of anecdote is not data.”

He goes on to point out that if e-cigarettes were part of the reason, we’d see a higher increase of e-cigarette users, which isn’t the case. King and his team saw that 2.8% of adults are vaping in 2017, a decrease since the number 3.4% in 2015.

“We’re basically seeing a gradual decline in overall e-cigarette use among adults, which is starkly different from what we’re seeing in youth,” King says.

Director of the Tobacco Research & Treatment Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Nancy Rigotti, says that there’s not just one way to interpret the data. “That’s assuming that people are switching to e-cigarettes and staying with e-cigarettes, rather than using them for a short time and then quitting nicotine altogether,” she says. “But certainly I agree you can’t ascribe this to e-cigarettes.”

What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think vaping has helped to decrease the number of U.S. smokers?