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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults — United States, 2011.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMWR Weekly. Nov. 9, 2012;61(44).

The 2011 National Health Interview Survey was administered by in-person interview and included 33,014 adults aged >18 years from among the non-institutionalized, U.S. civilian population. In 2011 an estimated 19.0% (43.8 million) of U.S. adults were current cigarette smokers.

On the one hand, the study reports significant progress among young adults aged 18-24, for whom the rate of smoking dropped sharply between 2005 and 2011, from 24.4 percent to 18.9 percent (a 22.5 percent decline). On the other hand, the study finds that, between 2005 and 2011, the proportion of U.S. adults who were current smokers declined at a much slower clip (falling from 20.9 percent to 19.0 percent), and no significant change occurred between 2010 (19.3 percent) and 2011 (19.0 percent). Moreover, while the percent of adult daily smokers who smoke 30 or more cigarettes per day dropped from 12.6 percent in 2005 to 9.1 percent in 2011, the percent who smoke 1–9 cigarettes per day actually increased, from 16.4 percent to 22.0 percent during the same period. Dr. Tim McAfee, Director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, has underscored the significance of this latter finding, noting in an interview with U.S. News and World Repor tthat "Smoking fewer cigarettes is not a substitute for quitting. If you go from smoking 20 cigarettes to 10 you aren't cutting your risk in half."

Prevalence rates were examined by various demographic breakdowns as follows:
Demographic groupSmoking Prevalence Among Adults (2011)
Non-Hispanic Whites20.6%
Non-Hispanic Blacks19.4%
American Indian/Alaska Natives31.5%
Educational levelHighest among 25+ with GED (45.3%) and decreased with educational level
Below Federal poverty line20.9%
Above Federal poverty line17.9%

The authors conclude that the findings underscore the need for fuller implementation of evidence-based interventions that are proven to reduce smoking prevalence.
These include increasing the price of tobacco products, implementing comprehensive smoke-free policies, running hard-hitting media campaigns and enforcing restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

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