Smoking Rates Among US Adults Remain Stalled in 2008

WASHINGTON, DC—Smoking rates among US adults remained stalled in 2008, halting the nation’s progress toward ending the tobacco epidemic, according to the CDC. A CDC study found that 46 million Americans (20.6 percent) were current cigarette smokers in 2008, which is virtually unchanged since 2004, when 20.9 percent of adults reported being smokers.

This new data, based on the 2008 National Health Interview Survey, shows little to no change over the past 5 years, worrying officials that smoking rates may be moving in the wrong direction. “Today tobacco will kill more than 1,000 people, but we can reduce smoking rates,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, in a statement. “We must protect people from second-hand smoke, increase the price of tobacco, and support aggressive anti-tobacco campaigns that will reduce smoking and save lives. If every state had smoking rates similar to places that have implemented effective programs, there would be at least 10 million fewer smokers in the US, and millions of heart attacks, cancers, strokes, and deaths would be prevented.”

According to the study, people with lower levels of education smoked at greater levels than those with a graduate degree. In 2008, 41.3 percent of persons with a General Education Development certificate smoked cigarettes, compared to 5.7 percent of persons with a graduate degree.

In another study in the Nov 13 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System reports that current adult smoking prevalence varied substantially across 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the three US territories. Among states, the percent of smoking prevalence was highest in West Virginia (26.6), Indiana (26.1), and Kentucky (25.3), and lowest in Utah (9.2), California (14), and New Jersey (14.8).

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