Smoking Rates of American Adults Has Reached a Never Before Seen Low
Only 14% Reported Cigarette Use in 2017
by Salynn Boyles, Contributing Writer MedPage Today
Smoking rates among U.S. adults continued to decline in 2017, reaching the lowest levels ever recorded with just 14% reporting current cigarette use in a large federal survey, the CDC reported Thursday.
That represents a decline of 1.5 percentage points from 2016, when 15.5% of adults in the U.S. smoked cigarettes, and a 67% decline from 1965 — the first year smoking rates were recorded nationally — when more than four adults in 10 were smokers.
Despite the tremendous progress, the latest data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that 34 million adults in the U.S. still smoke combustible cigarettes and 47 million, or about 20%, used some tobacco product in 2017.
The latest survey results, for individuals 18 and older, appeared in the Nov. 9 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“This 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,” CDC director Robert Redfield, MD, said in a press statement.
He added that despite the progress, work is needed to reduce tobacco use even further in the U.S., especially among certain groups of Americans.
Current cigarette smoking and use of any tobacco product remained far higher than the national average for some groups. Rates were highest among adults with GED diplomas (36.8% and 42.6%, respectively), those without high school diplomas (23.1% and 26.1%, respectively), and American Indian/Alaska Natives (24% and 29.8%, respectively.
Among other key demographic findings:
- Use of any tobacco product was slightly lower among black adults in the U.S. (20.1%) than white adults (21.4%), and use was significantly lower among Hispanics (12.7%) and Asians (8.9%).
- By region, use of any tobacco product was highest in the Midwest (23.5%, 95% CI 22.1%-24.8%), followed by the South (20.8%, 95% CI 19.6%-22.0%), the West (15.9%, 95% CI 14.6%-17.1%), and the Northeast (15.6%, 95% CI 13.8%-17.4%).
- Lesbian, gay, or bisexual adults reported higher current tobacco use (27.3%) than heterosexual/straight adults (19.0%).
- Tobacco use prevalence was also higher among those who were uninsured (31.0%), insured by Medicaid (28.2%) or had some other public insurance (26.8%) than among those with private insurance (16.2%) or Medicare only (11.0%).
- Current tobacco use was more than twice as high among those reporting a history of serious psychological distress (40.8% vs. 18.5%).
Just 2.8% of adult participants in the 2017 NHIS reported current use of electronic cigarettes, including 3.3% of men (95% CI 2.8%-3.7%) and 2.4% of women (95% CI 2.0%-2.7%).
E-cigarette use was highest among lesbian/gay/bisexual adults (7.5%, 95% CI 5.3%-9.8%), multi-racial, non-Hispanics (5.6%, 95% CI 2.7%-8.5%), and young adults (age 18-24; 5.2%, 95% CI 3.9%-6.5%).
Recent data suggest that use of e-cigarettes is significantly higher among teens. In one recent national survey, 14% of 10th graders and 16.2% of 12th graders reported using e-cigarettes within the previous month.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report