Smokers Numbers Drop in U.S.
The number of adults smoking in the U.S. has continued to drop, however after a one year stall the rate of decline is now much slower than before. For the last forty years the number of American smokers had dropped according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has also been identified that those who do smoke are smoking less than their predecessors. This information was released by CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden during the press conference releasing the findings of the new CDC report investigating the incidence of smoking in the United States. He stated that,” For 40 years there was a consistent decline in the number of adults who smoked, from 1964 to around 2005″.
The reports figures relating to smokers, 18 years and older, show that the number of smokers in the population dropped by 0.3% from 2005 to 2009 and then a further 1.3% of the population stopped smoking by 2010. Although a small percentage – 1.6%, this drop equates to three million fewer smokers than if no decline had occurred. The drop was from 20.9% in 2005 to 20.6% in 2009 and then 19.3% in 2010.
Frieden also had a few words of warning, noting that “Smoking less doesn’t save lives, the only safe thing to do is to quit smoking entirely”. This was said in response to figures that show that although the numbers of people who smoke 30 cigarettes or more a day are falling significantly there has been a rise in the number of people who smoke 10 cigarettes or less per day.
The report depended on data produced from two national surveys. The 2005-2010 National Health Interview Surveys and the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. Another finding showed that about 45 million Americans smoke habitually.
“The CDC has calculated that the cost to the U.S. of smoking is about $193 billion every year. This is calculated from medical costs and days of lost productivity”, said Dr. Timothy McAfee, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health when discussing the economics and health issues caused by smoking.
The researchers identified that the tobacco industry continues to spend enormous amounts of money to mount a campaign to sell more cigarettes using advertising and discounting as tools to minimize the effects of increased taxation. They also noted that successful features in the battle to cut back on smoking were forceful advertising, smoking bans in public places and workplaces and increasing the price of cigarettes.
McAfee also pointed out that many tobacco cessation programs in various states are not fully funded and yet the decline in smokers continues. He speculates that if fully funded then the drop in smokers would be more significant. To highlight the benefits that are possible when talking about the decline in smokers throughout America, Frieden said, “3 million fewer smokers is a very significant finding. About half of all smokers will be killed by tobacco if they don’t quit. And about a third of all current smokers may die from cigarette use unless they quit promptly. So we are talking about preventing more than 1 million deaths because of that decline.”
Another point which came out during the press conference was that the tobacco industry now manufactures cigarettes differently. This means that cigarettes today can be more addictive than in earlier years. The reason for this is that manufacturers have transformed the way nicotine is inhaled and then absorbed into the body. “We have seen an increase in what is called free-nicotine, or essentially ‘crack’ nicotine, available for very rapid absorption through the lungs,” Frieden added.
The report also found that the two areas with the most smokers were in the South, with 21% and in the Midwest where 21.8% of the population smoked. It was also noted that only 8.3% of all smokers smoked more than 30 cigarettes a day in 2010, down from 12.7% in 2005. However those who smoked less than 10 cigarettes a day rose from 16.4% in 2005 to 21.8% in 2010.