Cigarette Smoking among U.S. Adults Lowest ever Recorded: CDC

Atlanta, GA–Cigarette smoking has reached the lowest level ever recorded among U.S. adults, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NCI). Still, about 47 million (1 in 5) U.S. adults used a tobacco product in 2017, and they used a variety of smoked, smokeless, and electronic tobacco products.

An estimated 14 percent of U.S. adults (34 million) were current (“every day” or “some day”) cigarette smokers in 2017—down from 15.5 in 2016—a 67 percent decline since 1965. A particularly notable decline occurred among young adults between 2016 and 2017: about 10 percent of young adults aged 18 to 24 years smoked cigarettes in 2017, down from 13 percent in 2016.

The tobacco product landscape has changed in recent years to include newly developed products. In 2017, cigarettes were the most commonly used product (14 percent) among U.S. adults, followed by cigars, cigarillos, or filtered little cigars (3.8 percent); e-cigarettes (2.8 percent); smokeless tobacco (2.1 percent); and pipes, water pipes, or hookahs (1 percent). Of the 47 million adults who currently use any tobacco products, about 9 million (19 percent) reported use of two or more tobacco products. The most common tobacco product combinations were cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

By subgroups, use of any tobacco product was highest among people with a General Education Development (GED) certificate (42.6%); people who were uninsured (31.0%), insured by Medicaid (28.2%), or received some other public insurance (26.8%); non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (29.8%), multiracial (27.4%), white (21.4%), or black adults (20.1%); lesbian, gay, or bisexual adults (27.3%); people with an annual household income under $35,000 (26.0%); people living with a disability (25.0%); adults living in the Midwest (23.5%) or the South (20.8%); people divorced, separated, or widowed (23.1%), or people who were single, never married, or not living with a partner (21.0%).

Among adults who reported serious psychological distress, about 2 in 5 adults (40.8 percent) used any tobacco product—one of the most marked disparities in tobacco use—compared with about 1 in 5 (18.5 percent) of those without serious psychological distress.

Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, and is responsible for the overwhelming burden of death and disease from tobacco use. Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 480,000 Americans each year, and about 16 million Americans suffer from a smoking-related illness. However, no form of tobacco use is risk-free.