Smoking rate down a bit, from 18.1 percent to 17.8 percent. Wow. Not acceptable.

By Gil Ross — Dec 01, 2014
Latest CDC data show adult smoking rate now down to 17.8 percent. While any reduction is a public-health benefit, given the lethality of smoking, this rate has declined ever-so-slowly for too long: we still have over 40 million smokers.

AdultSmokingThe latest survey data from the CDC, collected over last year, reveal an ongoing salutary trend in our nation s adult smoking rate: it is now down to 17.8 percent, as compared to 2012 s 18.1 percent. Unfortunately, the number of adult smokers remains in the low 40 millions, and the number who smoke daily was about 32 million in 2013, not much different from the 2012 results: 33 million.

The barely-perceptible decline in adult smoking rates over the past 5 years or more bespeaks the failure of our nation s public health leadership in helping addicted adult smokers quit, despite all the patting-themselves-on-the-back stories the CDC will be spewing out to the media, who will undoubtedly soak it all in and parrot it back. The sad facts are these: adults need more effective help to get them off deadly cigarettes; the Quitlines and the scary ads and the patches, gums and drugs OK d by the FDA just are not cutting it, as should be obvious to anyone without an interest in exaggerating gains from these puny efforts. Even cigarette taxes have a limit, as smokers will find a way to get their smokes even if it means deferring paying rent or getting medical care. Of course, they can always get cheaper smokes from the Indian reservation or via the Internet, or simply drive to the next state. I found it disappointing but unsurprising that the CDC report chose to compare 2013 s figures to those of 2005 in order to give the appearance of progress against the scourge of smoking; merely putting 2013 next to 2012 would be too embarrassing.

Hey, CDC s Frieden and acolytes: why not just admit that the current methods don t work so well, and tell the truth about the potential benefits of reduced-harm nicotine delivery devices: e-cigs and vapor products? Funny, our country s young people seem to have made that discovery by themselves, since youth smoking rates have plummeted, owing (to some extent) to teen smokers switching from cigarettes to vaping e-cigarettes.

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