News Brief by Lushna Mehra
A recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that the United States has reached a new low in smoking. Less than 17 percent of adults now smoke, which is a 3 percent decrease from 2005. On top of this low, the frequency of cigarettes being smoked has also decreased from 17 to 14 cigarettes per day, on average. Brian King, the deputy director for research translation at the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health Atlanta, has noted that economic gaps continue to contribute to the smoking population. Uninsured adults and poor Medicaid recipients have double the smoking rates of those with insurance and Medicare, whose rates are about 12 to 13 percent. Likewise, those who only obtained high-school degrees and non-whites have been found more likely to smoke than well-educated adults and/or whites. As a result of these disparities, it is still a goal to reduce national smoking to 12 percent to reach the “Healthy People 2020” goal. Policy changes at the local and state levels, such as increasing tobacco prices and implementing smoke-free laws, in addition to mass-media education have contributed to the smoking rate decline. King notes, however, that we need to be certain that getting rid of tobacco in the form of cigarettes is not simply increasing the other forms of tobacco usage, like e-cigarettes and hookah, especially in youths and low-income, low-education populations. Dr. Gregg Fonarow, spokesman for the American Heart Association and UCLA professor of cardiology, agrees and has emphasized that though this decline is a success in aiding rates of death caused by heart disease, lung disease, and cancer, there is always a goal to decrease smoking in the millions of people of vulnerable populations who continue to smoke.
U.S. Adult Smoking Rate Falls to New Low: MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_155685.html