According to preliminary statistics released by the government for the first half of 2015, less than 15% of American adults currently smoke. This rate is lower than a report released earlier indicating that 16.8% adults were smoking in 2014.
The National Health Interview Survey has been carrying out a study in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine the prevalence of tobacco use in the United States since 1997. The highest rate ever recorded since the inception of the survey was 24.7%.
While a closer look indicates that there was a steady decline from 1997 to 2004, there was stagnation until 2009 when the current downward trend started to fall again, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director Tom Frieden. Frieden notes that the decline from 2009 was triggered by tax increases on tobacco products and tobacco regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The launching of the graphic anti-smoking campaign in 2012 by the CDC also contributed to the decline in smoking rates. Since the inception of the campaign, the CDC says that up to 16,000 smoking-related deaths have been prevented. The decline was expected, though. Repeated studies have shown that the measures put in place by the CDC and FDA in addition to smoking bans help reduce the rate of smoking.
Frieden says the new figures are encouraging but added that there is still a lot of work to be done since smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Statistics indicate that there is an estimated 40 million Americans who still smoke, and half that number will die prematurely unless they quit.
With the dangers that come with smoking and massive sensitization campaigns, who is still smoking? The report indicates more men than women. Even more worrying is that smoking seems to be more appealing among the younger generation. According to the report, people aged between 18 and 44 and 45 to 64 are more likely to smoke compared to those aged 65 and above. By race, more white and black non-Hispanics smoke than their Hispanic counterparts.
Frieden says they are well aware that 80% to 90% of those who smoke today started as kids, and most have tried quitting more than once.
Of concern to the CDC is the rapid rise of new forms of tobacco use including electronic cigarettes and hookahs that are not under any regulation. They are readily available to children, who continually use them and ultimately become addicted.