The nation’s smoking cessation programs just aren’t working — but health officials are stubbornly refusing to admit it.
Statistics released yesterday from the Centers for Disease Control show that 19 percent of U.S. adults smoked in 2011, a rate little changed from the 19.3 percent that did in 2010 and the 20.9 percent who puffed in 2005.
“Smoking rates in our country went down fairly impressively, dating from the landmark Surgeon General’s report in February 1964 which pinned lung cancer on smoking, up to 2005, but total smoking rates since then have basically stagnated,” says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross.
Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, blames the decline in state funding for tobacco-control programs such as smoke-free laws, increased taxes, access to smoking cessation programs and media campaigns. Those programs, Dr. McAfee tells HealthDay News, “have been incredibly effective.”
“I’m wondering how people can say that when faced with statistics showing that’s not true,” says Dr. Ross. “While there are pockets of progress against smoking, including California’s and New York City, with much lower rates, the obvious yet willfully-ignored fact is that the decline in smoking rate in our nation has come to a halt. The drugs and other methods such as patches have been shown to work poorly or not at all. Yet our public health officials stonewall any consideration of, or even acknowledgement of, reduced risk nicotine delivery products such as e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.”
But we here at ACSH did note and applaud one bit of datum from the CDC’s report — fewer young adults are smoking. The rate among people aged 18 to 24 dropped from 24 percent to nearly 19 percent. That still means millions of young people are getting hooked on smoking, though, and Dr. Ross says “we don’t know” how that drop was accomplished.