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Decline In Adult Smoking Rates Stall

Armen Hareyan's picture

After years of progress in reducing adult smoking rates, a recent study issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the reduction in U.S. adult smoking rates may have stalled. Between 2004 and 2005, there was no observed change in U.S. adult smoking rates. According to an article in this week's issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 20.9 percent-45.1 million people-in the United States are current smokers, the same rate as in 2004.

"Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death and disease in the United States," said Dr. Terry Pechacek, Associate Director for Science in CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "The most effective way to reduce tobacco use is by fully implementing sustained comprehensive tobacco control programs that address initiation and cessation at the state and community level."

The report also indicates that 42.5 percent of current smokers-19.2 million people-had stopped smoking for at least one day during the past year because they were trying to quit. And among those who had ever smoked, 50.8 percent-46.5 million people-had successfully quit, a percentage that also is unchanged since 2004.

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In another study in this week's MMWR, the 2005 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System reports that adult current smoking prevalence varied considerably across 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Kentucky (28.7 percent), Indiana (27.3 percent), and Tennessee (26.8 percent) had the highest prevalence of current smokers - while smoking prevalence was lowest in Utah (11.5 percent), California (15.2 percent), and Connecticut (16.5 percent).

In the same study, CDC also report significant variation among 14 states in the proportion of adults protected by smoke-free workplace policies and the proportion of adults who protect themselves and their families from secondhand smoke in the home.

Arizona (82.9 percent) and Nevada (79.0 percent) had the highest percentage of people who report that smoking is not allowed anywhere inside their homes (i.e., complete smoke-free home rule); the states with the lowest percentages were Kentucky (63.6 percent) and West Virginia (65.4 percent). The states with the highest percentage of smoke-free workplace policies were West Virginia (85.8 percent) and Iowa (77.7 percent) whereas Nevada (54.8 percent) and Arkansas (61.3 percent) had the lowest.

"Over the past 20 years, secondhand smoke exposure has decreased dramatically; however, more than 126 million nonsmoking Americans continue to be exposed in their homes, vehicles, workplaces, and public places," said Dr. Pechacek. "State, community, and workplace smoke-free policies, when combined with increased access to resources to help people quit, will reduce tobacco consumption and secondhand smoke exposure, and ultimately can save lives."

For copies of the full MMWR articles, visit www.cdc.gov/mmwr. For more information on how to quit tobacco use, visit www.smokefree.gov or contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW.