Number of Adult Smokers Holds Steady, CDC Finds
The number of American adults who smoke has held steady over the last several years, at nearly one in four, according to a CDC study released yesterday, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The study found that 23.5% percent of adults -- approximately 46 million -- smoked in 1999, down from 24% in 1998 and 25% in 1993. In addition, the survey found that smoking rates differed by economic class and educational background. Approximately 33% of people with incomes below the federal poverty line smoke, compared to 23% of those with incomes "at or above" the poverty line. Only 13% of people with a college education smoked, compared to 40% of people who "went only through early high school." African Americans and whites had equivalent smoking rates, at 24.3%. The number of adults who smoke "fell steadily" in the 1980s but has "flattened out" in the 1990s, despite "heavy anti-tobacco advertising, higher cigarette prices and a crackdown on smoking in public places." The stagnant numbers are "frustrating" to health officials, who have set of goal of reducing the number of smokers to 12% by 2010. "We're happy that we're back on a downward trend, but those feelings are tempered with our recognition that we will not reach the objective without a more dramatic decline," Terry Pechacek, associate director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said. Health officials cited Arizona as a model for successful anti-smoking measures. Its voter-initiated "steep increase" in the cigarette tax and "creative" anti-smoking campaign have been credited with reducing the number of adult smokers in the state from 23% to 18% in three years (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/12).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.