Efforts of the government in spreading awareness on the negative impacts of smoking appear to be working as health officials claim that the number of adult smokers in the U.S. has hit an all-time low.
In the Nov. 28 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have revealed that the rate of cigarette smoking among American adults has significantly declined from 2005 to 2013 dropping from nearly 21 percent to 17.8 percent during the period.
The number marks the lowest prevalence of smoking among adults since CDC's National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) started to keep such records in 1965. The data, which were from the 2013 NHIS, show that between 2005 and 2013, the number of cigarette smokers fell from 45.1 million to 42.1 million regardless that the country's population has increased.
Although the declining smoking rate is welcome news, health experts said that those who continue to smoke still need help as this could reduce their odds for early death. Cigarette smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the U.S. killing over 480,000 individuals per year. It is also responsible for diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
"Smokers who quit before they're 40 years old can get back almost all of the 10 years of life expectancy smoking takes away," said Brian King, from CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.
CDC's Office on Smoking and Health director Tim McAfee said that the prevalence of smoking can still be reduced by adopting strategies such as funding tobacco control programs, adopting smoke-free laws, increasing the price of tobacco products and sustaining media campaigns.
"There is encouraging news in this study, but we still have much more work to do to help people quit," McAfee said. "We can bring down cigarette smoking rates much further, much faster, if strategies proven to work are put in place."
While the overall smoking rate has gone down, data show that cigarette smoking is still high among certain groups particularly among individuals who live below the poverty level with nearly 30 percent smoking prevalence compared with the 17.8 rate in the general population.
"Cigarette smoking prevalence was higher among certain subpopulations, including adults who are male, younger, multiracial or American Indian/Alaska Native, have less education, live below the federal poverty level, live in the South or Midwest, have a disability/limitation, or are LGB," the CDC researchers wrote.