In a new national health study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, smoking among adults ages 18 and over in the U.S. is on a decline, from 16 percent of adults smoking in 2016 to 14 percent this year, reported NBC News.
Even though that still totals to more than 30 million adult smokers in the U.S., the slight decrease shows a trend that fewer people are picking up or continuing the habit.
“There hadn’t been much change the previous two years, but it’s been clear there’s been a general decline and the new figures show it’s continuing,” said K. Michael Cummings of the tobacco research program at the Medical University of South Carolina.
As NBC News reported, approximately 42 percent of adults in the country smoked in the 1960s. Smoking was practically allowed in nearly every location from airplanes, offices, restaurants, and even in hospital settings. Since then, thorough research to gain more insight that links smoking to health dangers such as cancer, emphysema, lung disease and heart disease, to name a few, has made great strides in providing more education and awareness to the risks of the dangerous habit, coinciding with the decline in smoking being reported.
Experts are also attributing the decline to significant health studies, effective anti-smoking campaigns, the Surgeon General in 1964 releasing the first government report linking smoking with certain diseases, higher prices and taxes for cigarette purchases, and bans on smoking in specific locations.
“Everything is pointed in the right direction, including falling cigarette sales and other indicators,” Cummings added.
Back then, teenagers were smoking more as well. According to the recent CDC report, smoking among American teens is down to 9 percent. Although the vaping and e-cigarette forms of smoking were not mentioned in the study, NBC News reported that a study from 2016 found that 3 percent of adults use e-cigarettes and an estimated 13 percent of high school students prefer to use e-cigarettes or other vaping devices.
E-cigarettes are handheld electronic devices that simulate the feeling of tobacco smoking by heating liquid nicotine into a vapor. Even though it doesn’t have the by-products of tobacco, health experts still believe that people can get addicted to the nicotine in the e-cigarettes.
According to The Hill, federal officials are now trying to find ways to regulate the use of e-cigarettes before they become the most appealing smoking option out there, especially with teens who may like the variety of flavors.
As the report notes, even though cigarette smoking among U.S. adults has been reduced by more than half since 1964, it still remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the country, taking the lives of more than 480,000 Americans each year with over 30 people living with a smoking-related disease for every person who dies a year. The decline in smoking rates shows a positive improvement and great step toward continuing to reduce smoking-related deaths and illnesses.
“The good news is that these data are consistent with the declines in adult cigarette smoking that we’ve seen for several decades,” said Corinne Graffunder, DrPH, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “These findings also show that more people are quitting, and those who continue to smoke are smoking less.”