Cigarette use among American adults is at the lowest it’s been since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started collecting data on the issue in 1965, according to a report released Thursday.
“The good news is that cigarette smoking has reached unprecedented lows, which is a tremendous public health win, down to 14 percent from over 40 percent in the mid-1960s,” said Brian King, senior author of the report and deputy director for research translation at the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. About 47.4 million Americans, or 19.3%, used any tobacco product in 2017, the report says.
He believes that the decline is due to proven interventions, such as smoke-free policies and rises in the price of tobacco products.
As stated in the report, the data is from the National Health Interview Survey, “an annual, nationally representative, in-person survey of the noninstitutionalized U.S. civilian population.” The 2017 sample included 26,742 adults and had a response rate of 53%.
Researchers assessed the use of five types of tobacco products: cigarettes, cigars, pipes (including water pipes and hookahs), e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco (such as snuff or dip).
“During 2016-2017 declines occurred in current use of any tobacco product; any combustible tobacco product, [two or more] tobacco products; cigarettes; and smokeless tobacco,” the report says.
King added, “on balance, we still have some public health hurdles in that there is still 47 million Americans that are using some form of tobacco products, and we still have significant disparities among the groups in the country in terms of tobacco product use.”
So, who is still using these products, and what are they using?
Beyond the 14% of Americans smoking cigarettes, 3.8% are smoking cigars, 2.8% are using e-cigarettes or vaping, 2.1% use smokeless tobacco products, and 1% are using pipes.
Males (24.8%) were more likely to be smoking than females (14.2%). The highest age group for smoking was among those between 25 to 44 (22.5%); those 65 and older smoked the least (11%). Southerners and Midwesterners (20.8% and 23.5%, respectively) smoked more than those in the Northeast (15.6%) and the West (15.9%)
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The researchers also looked at race, education level, income level, sexuality, insurance provider and marital status to determine smoking rates.
Although cigarettes are the leading cause of tobacco-related deaths and diseases in the country, according to King, he also believes other tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, need to be considered to continue declining rates of overall tobacco product use.
“It’s critical that we not only modernize our strategies in terms of population but also modernize our interventions to be sure that we are capturing the full diversity of tobacco products that the American public are using,” King said.