While other types of substance abuse continue to climb, U.S. smoking rates have dropped almost 20 percent since 2005 (with only 16.8 percent of adults lighting up during 2014). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is the lowest rate on record. The biggest smoking decrease has occurred among young adults, ages 18 to 24. The CDC says there are many potential reasons for these encouraging statistics, including new anti-smoking laws, ongoing anti-smoking media campaigns, and the rise of nicotine substitutes. E-cigarette popularity may also be a contributor.
Other Facts from the CDC’s 2014 National Health Interview Study
- Smoking cessation is more difficult for certain demographics, especially people in poverty. In 2014, 29.1 percent of people on Medicaid smoked, and 27.9 percent of those without health insurance were still lighting up. On the other hand, only 12.9 percent of adults with private health insurance continued to smoke.
- Education also plays a role, since only five percent of adults with a graduate degree were smoking compared to 43 percent of adults who had earned their GED.
- Smoking rates were found to be higher among multiracial adults (28 percent), adults ages 25 to 44 (20 percent), and adults affiliated with the LGBT community (23.9 percent).
According to Kenneth Warner, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, it is important to focus anti-smoking efforts on these smoking-vulnerable communities. “Those who still smoke are the poor, the disenfranchised, the mentally ill. That’s who we need to focus on,” he said.
Each year, cigarettes are responsible for nearly a half a million American deaths and over $300 billion in healthcare costs. According to the CDC, future anti-smoking solutions may include higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention programs, and barrier-free health insurance for smoking cessation programs.
To learn more about the tools you need to quit smoking for good, visit http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/ or discuss a smoking cessation program with your physician or addiction specialist. If you are being impacted by second-hand smoke, it’s also important to speak with your doctor about protecting your health and the health of your children. Visit the Surgeon General website for more information.