The U.S. Smoking Rate Just Hit A Historic Low
Chalk up another big win for public health: The smoking rate among U.S. adults appears to have hit a new low.
New survey data, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Tuesday morning, suggests that just 15.2 percent of American adults are now using cigarettes on a regular basis. That smoking rate is nearly 2 percentage points lower than what the same survey reported for calendar year 2014.
The basis for the findings are responses to the National Health Interview Survey, which the Census Bureau operates on behalf of the CDC and is among the most reliable instruments government has for measuring health habits and status. The data is preliminary, because it comes from January through March and the smoking rate might yet creep up before the year ends. Among other factors, people have been known to quit in January, after making a New Year’s resolution, and then resume a few months later.
But even allowing for that possibility, and the margin of error that all surveys have, it’s likely the adult smoking rate for the full 2015 calendar year will be lower than it was in 2014.
“This result is absolutely exciting and maybe even astonishing, if this decrease holds up when we see data for the full year,” Kenneth Warner, a professor of health policy and management at the University of Michigan, told The Huffington Post.
Warner, who is among the nation’s leading experts on tobacco and anti-smoking policy, explained: “With smoking responsible for 500,000 American deaths every year — one-fifth of all deaths — every decrease in smoking prevalence of this magnitude will ultimately translate into many thousands of premature deaths being avoided. This is a great development for public health.”