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CDC: Cigarette smoking rates drop over 6-year span


In 2011, an estimated 19% (43.8 million) of adults in the United States smoked cigarettes, a drop from 20.9% in 2005, according to an annual report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, no significant drop occurred from 2010, when the rate was 19.3%, researchers reported based on data from the National Health Interview Survey.

Among adult daily smokers, the percentage who smoke 30 or more cigarettes per day dropped from 12.6 in 2005 to 9.1 in 2011, and the percentage who smoke one to nine cigarettes per day increased from 16.4 to 22 during the same period.

Smoking prevalence in 2011 was 21.6% among males and 16.5% among females. By race/ethnicity, prevalence was lowest among non-Hispanic Asians (9.9%) and highest among non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives (31.5%).

By age, prevalence was lowest among adults ages 65 and older (7.9%) and highest among those ages 25 to 44 (22.1%). Prevalence was higher among adults living below the federal poverty level (29%) compared with those living at or above that level (17.9%).

For the first time, the report includes data on smoking among persons with self-reported disabilities. In 2011, smoking was higher among those who reported having any disability (25.4%) compared with those who reported having no disability (17.3%).

Although a slight overall decline in smoking has occurred among U.S. adults since 2005, the prevalence remains higher than the Healthy People 2020 target of 12%, according to the report. A combination of smoke-free laws, tobacco price increases, access to proven quitting treatments and services and hard-hitting media campaigns will reduce healthcare costs and save lives, the authors noted.

“In recent years, several advances in tobacco control have occurred in the United States,” according to the report. “These include implementation of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which granted the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products. Although not affecting these 2011 findings, the federal mass media campaign conducted in early 2012, which included graphic personal stories on the adverse health impact of smoking, might contribute to future decreases in prevalence.”

More of a commitment to anti-smoking measures needs to be made, the authors wrote.

“Although comprehensive tobacco control programs have been effective in decreasing tobacco use in the United States, they remain underfunded. In fiscal year 2011, CDC recommended appropriate annual funding levels for each state comprehensive tobacco control program. However, only two states funded tobacco control programs at CDC-recommended levels, whereas 27 states funded at less than 25% of these levels.

“Despite increases in excise tax revenue, state funding for tobacco control programs has actually decreased during the past five years. Full implementation of comprehensive tobacco control programs at CDC-recommended funding levels might result in a substantial reduction in tobacco-related disease and death and billions of dollars in savings from averted medical costs and lost productivity.”

The report appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and is available at


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