|May 26, 2016|
Cigarette Smoking by Adults Dropped in 2015, C.D.C. Survey Says
|Cigarette smoking is declining among adults in the United States, according to a national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
The report published this week, the C.D.C.'s 2015 National Health Interview Survey, said the percentage of adults aged 18 and over who were cigarette smokers in 2015 was 15.1 percent, down from 16.8 percent in 2014.
That figure is in line with a general trend showing that smoking in that age range has tapered off since 1997, when more than one quarter of adults smoked. The survey did not give reasons for the trend or analyze whether it could be attributed to smokers' switching from conventional cigarettes to e-cigarette devices.
The report also said the percentage of current cigarette smokers was higher for men (16.7 percent) than for women (13.6 percent).
"The trend of the last couple years is remarkable, particularly the last two years," said Kenneth E. Warner, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan. "We have not seen anything like this for a very long time."
Professor Warner said he was not certain why cigarette use was in decline, but it could be a response to more federal antismoking campaigns in the past few years. "It is possible that a significant number of smokers are getting off of cigarettes by using alternative nicotine sources like e-cigarettes," he added.
The overall decline in cigarette smoking comes as the use of e-cigarette devices, which are designed to deliver nicotine without the toxic tar of conventional cigarettes, has generally risen, especially among teenagers.
But more Americans are questioning their safety, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week.
After years of debate about the health risks of electronic cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration issued rules this month banning the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 and requiring that adults under the age of 26 show a photo identification to buy them.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing about 480,000 people a year.
The C.D.C. survey used estimates of data taken from interviews on issues that affect the health of Americans, including alcohol consumption, health insurance coverage and obesity. It defined cigarette-smoking adults as those who had smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and who currently smoked every day or some days.
Professor Warner said some federal studies have put the prevalence of adults' cigarette smoking higher, possibly because of the differing ways they define who is a smoker. But the trends are consistent with a decline.
"The bottom line on these numbers is that they are very encouraging," he said.