Smoking rates falling among adults in the US

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Here s some good news. A report released Tuesday by the CDC found that the rate of smoking among adults in the United States has fallen to 18 percent. Although the rate of smoking has been falling over the past few decades, it had stalled at about 20 percent for the past seven years.

The report was based on a survey of 35,000 adults. Smokers were defined as having smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke every day or some days. Overall trends included fewer smokers among the over 65-age group and higher rates for younger adults. Furthermore, more men than women reported being smokers. Although the report did not include teens, a CDC report released in 2011 found that 16 percent of high school students were smokers.

According to Patrick Reynolds, the executive director of the Foundation for a SmokeFree America, the reasons for this decrease include an increase in state and federal taxes on tobacco products, an increase in spending on prevention and cessation programs and an increase in laws banning smoking in public places.

That s simply false, said ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross. Nothing is new among those ostensible quit smoking approaches. The more likely reason for the sudden, albeit small, decline is the new availability and recognition of the benefits of e-cigarettes. These nicotine-delivery devices have been used by about 2 million Americans, if not more, and that matches pretty closely the number who have left smoke behind, according to this early CDC report.

The decline in smoking is certainly good news, observed Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, President of ACSH, but even with this reported decrease, and with cigarette smoking the leading cause of preventable death, we still have a long ways to go.