Cigarette Smoking Among U.S. Adults Reaches Lowest Level Ever Recorded

In 2017, an estimated 14 percent of U.S. adults (34 million) were current (past 30-day) cigarette smokers, a decrease of 15.5 percent in 2016 and a 67 percent decline since 1965. Notably, the number of young adults aged 18 to 24 years decreased from 13 percent in 2016 to 10 percent in 2017.

Cigarette smoking has reached the lowest level ever recorded among adults in the United States, according to new data published by the CDC, the FDA, and the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NCI). Despite the low level, about 47 million (1 in 5) U.S. adults still used a tobacco product in 2017, from a variety of smoked, smokeless, and electronic tobacco products.

In 2017, an estimated 14 percent of U.S. adults (34 million) were current (past 30-day) cigarette smokers, a decrease of 15.5 percent in 2016 and a 67 percent decline since 1965. Notably, the number of young adults aged 18 to 24 years decreased from 13 percent in 2016 to 10 percent in 2017.

“This new all-time low in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults is a tremendous public health accomplishment – and it demonstrates the importance of continued proven strategies to reduce smoking,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said. “Despite this progress, work remains to reduce the harmful health effects of tobacco use.”

Data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey were released in Thursday’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, and describe tobacco product use among U.S. adults, with products used including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, hookah/water pipes/pipes, and smokeless tobacco. The survey has been used to assess current cigarette smoking in U.S. adults since 1965 but has recently begun to assess use of other tobacco products as the tobacco product landscape has changed.

The most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. adults in 2017 was cigarettes (14 percent), followed by cigars, cigarillos, or filtered little cigars (3.8 percent), e-cigarettes (2.8 percent), smokeless tobacco (2.1 percent), and pipes, water pipes, or hookahs (1 percent). Of the 47 million adults who currently use tobacco products, about 9 million (19 percent) reported using two or more products.

“For more than half a century, cigarette smoking has been the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States. Eliminating smoking in America would, over time, eliminate about one-third of all cancer deaths,” said NCI Director Norman E. Sharpless, M.D., “The persistent disparities in adult smoking prevalence described in this report emphasize the need for further research to accelerate reductions in tobacco use among all Americans.”

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