CDC Report: U.S. Adult Smoking Rate at Lowest Level Since 1965
About 17.8% of U.S. residents ages 18 and older smoked cigarettes in 2013, marking the lowest rate since CDC started tracking smoking rates in 1965, according to CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Friday, MedPage Today's "The Gupta Guide" reports.
The report was based on data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey. The survey is conducted annually and included 34,557 U.S. adult respondents, with a response rate of 61.2%. The report classified individuals as smokers if they reported having smoked at least 100 cigarettes throughout their lifetimes and said they smoked at least some days (Smith, "The Gupta Guide," MedPage Today, 11/26).
Smoking at Lowest CDC-Recorded Rate
According to the report, the rate has declined from roughly 20.9% in 2005 and from 42% in 1965. Overall, the percentage accounts for an estimated 42 million smokers in 2013, down from about 45 million in 2005 (Tavernise, New York Times, 11/26).
Meanwhile, the report showed that U.S. adults who smoke do so less often and smoke fewer cigarettes than adult smokers did in previous years. Specifically, the report found that 76.9%, or 32.4 million people, of the estimated 42 million who reported smoking in 2013 said they smoked daily, compared with 80.8% of smokers, or 36.5 million people, who reported doing so in 2005. Further, daily smokers used an average of 16.7 cigarettes per day in 2005, compared with 14.2 cigarettes per day in 2013, according to the report ("The Gupta Guide," MedPage Today, 11/26).
According to the report, smoking rates might have declined because of:
- Higher cigarette prices;
- Anti-smoking campaigns; and
- Greater access to cessation medications and programs (Beasley, Reuters, 11/26).
Variations in Smoking Rates
CDC reported several variations in the prevalence of smoking among certain groups. For example:
- 41.4% of U.S. residents ages 25 and older who had a General Education Development certificate said they smoked, compared with 5.6% of adults 25 and older who had a graduate degree;
- 29.9% of people living below the federal poverty level reported smoking, compared with 16.2% of people at or above the poverty level;
- 26.8% of people reporting multiple races and 26.1% of American Indians/Alaska Natives said they smoked, marking the highest rate among ethnic and racial groups, compared with 9.6% of Asians, who had the lowest rate among racial and ethnic groups;
- 23% of people with disabilities or other limitations reported smoking, compared with 17% of those who reported no disabilities or other limitations;
- 20.5% of men reported smoking, compared with 15.3% of women; and
- 20.1% of adults ages 25 to 44 reported smoking, marking the highest rate among adult age groups, compared with 8.8% of adults ages 65 and older, who had the lowest rate among adult age groups.
Further, the survey found that individuals who identified as bisexual, gay or lesbian smoked at a rate almost 10 percentage points above the national average ("The Gupta Guide," MedPage Today, 11/26). Such individuals also reported smoking about 50% more cigarettes than those who identified as heterosexual (Reuters, 11/26). According to "The Gupta Guide," 2013 was the first year in which the survey asked about participants' sexual orientations ("The Gupta Guide," MedPage Today, 11/26).
Electronic Cigarette Concerns
CDC in the report noted concern over U.S. residents' increased use of electronic cigarettes, citing a lack of long-term scientific evidence on the potential health benefits and risks. In addition, the report noted that e-cigarette use tripled among high school students from 2011 to 2013, reaching 4.5% (Reuters, 11/26).
CDC Office on Smoking and Health Director Tim McAfee in a statement said, "There is encouraging news in this study, but we still have much more work to do to help people quit" smoking ("The Gupta Guide," MedPage Today, 11/26).
Meanwhile, Brian King, senior scientific adviser at OSH, said that while the report is promising, smoking rates are not declining quickly enough to meet federal targets to cut adult cigarette use to 12% by 2020. He said, "We need to accelerate the magnitude of the decline" (Reuters, 11/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.