Smoking In America Reaches An All-Time Low, CDC Reports

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that smoking has become less common in the United States in recent years. Altogether, the number of Americans who smoke cigarettes has declined by 4.1 percent between 2005 and 2014. There was even a significant difference in numbers from 2013 to 2014, which showed a 1 percent smoker decline.

Another major decline, was the amount of cigarettes smoked by daily smoker in a day. In the past nine years, the percentage of cigarettes smoked decreased by 2.9 percent for daily smokers. The CDC attributes this decline to its own initiatives, like the Healthy People 2020 project.

Image via Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images [Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images]Over the years, CDC officials have stressed the dangers of prolonged cigarette smoking and second hand smoke. After countless public service announcements and other efforts to get through to Americans, the organization is finally seeing progress. Despite the decline of smokers, CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden expressed the dangers associated with smoking still exist and the number of smokers in America is still severe.

“Smoking kills half a million Americans each year and costs more than $300 billion. This report shows real progress helping American smokers quit and that more progress is possible.”

If smoking has declined so much, who are the Americans who still smoke? The CDC has gathered this information by using a combination of data sources. The organization has also compiled a list of demographics that they consider to be “at-risk populations.” The number one, at-risk demographic is adults between the ages of 25 and 44-years-old. Secondly, race, income level and sexual orientation play a significant role in one’s likeliness to become a smoker.

Image via Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images [Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]The LA Times reports that most people with a general education development certificate (GED) are smokers. This demographic is also more likely to be low income individuals. The likeliness to smoke has been hinted to be associated with the stress related to poverty, and discrimination based on race and sexuality in the United States. Research director, Brian King, Ph.D, in the CDC’s Smoking and Health office recognizes that special attention must be paid to these demographics on future smoking awareness projects.

“These findings underscore the importance of ensuring that proven strategies to prevent and reduce tobacco use reach the entire population, particularly vulnerable groups.Comprehensive smoke-free laws, higher prices for tobacco products, high-impact mass media campaigns, and barrier-free access to quitting help are all important. They work to reduce the enormous health and financial burden of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure among Americans.”

The findings that King is referring to, are the numbers that show the bi-racial community in America has a 27.9 percent smoking rate. In addition, 29.9 percent of Native Americans smoke along with 43 percent of GED recipients and 26.3 percent of individuals who live below the federal poverty line. People with disabilities have the second lowest smoking percentage and are only topped by people living in the Midwest, where smoking is still culturally a rather popular habit. In the LGBT community, 23 percent of the population are smokers.

Laws have contributed greatly to the overall decline of smoking, in addition to CDC efforts. Health insurance companies have started charging more to patients who smoke in recent years. A potentially more inspiring fact is that most insurers, including Medicaid, do not provide comprehensive coverage for tobacco-related health issues or even programs to help smokers quit.

Matthew Meyers, president of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, feels that this is unacceptable. He recently stated that America needs help in this regard.

“Proven methods must be implemented with full force countrywide, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs that include mass media campaigns, and comprehensive, barrier-free health insurance coverage for smoking cessation treatments.”

With evidence that America now knows what measures must be taken to combat smoking, Meyers believes that a smoke-free nation is just around the corner. Coming up next in the fight against tobacco will be an attempt to legalize cessation medications which will cure smokers of their tobacco addiction. This initiative will require FDA approval for the seven smoking cessation medications in existence.

[Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images]