NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes, while those who do light are up are doing so less frequently, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to its latest Vital Signs report released Tuesday, 19.3% of Americans 18 or older – approximately 45.3 million people – smoked cigarettes in 2010, a decline from 20.9% five years earlier. Of those, 78.2% (35.4 million people) smoke every day. But they’re not lighting up as often as they used to.
While the CDC saw the percentage of daily smokers who smoke nine or fewer cigarettes per day rise from 16.4% in 2005 to 21.8% in 2010, the proportion who smoke 30 or more cigarettes per day fell from 12.7% to 8.3% during the same period.
But the report, which incorporates data from 2005 to 2010, isn’t entirely full of good news. The CDC also says that the rate of the decline between 2005 and 2010 is slower than in the previous five-year period.
“This slowing trend shows the need for intensified efforts to reduce cigarette smoking among adults,” Tim McAfee, director of the CDC Office on Smoking and Health, said in a written statement.
According to the CDC, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S. It says both use and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke kill an estimated 443,000 Americans each year. The habit also has economic costs associated with it, costing the nation about $193 billion annually in direct health care expenses and lost productivity, the agency says.
Thankfully, certain methods that have already been proven effective to drive down smoking rates like higher tobacco prices, hard-hitting media campaigns, graphic health warnings on cigarette packs, 100% smoke-free policies and programs that provide immediate assistance to those looking to quit can all help states in their efforts to promote healthy living.
“These approaches are proven to decrease smoking and reduce the health burden and economic impact of tobacco-related diseases in the United States,” McAfee said.
The CDC also notes that even the occasional cigarette can lead to health problems.
“You don’t have to be a heavy smoker or a long-time smoker to get a smoking-related disease or have a heart attack or asthma attack,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a written statement. “The sooner you quit smoking, the sooner your body can begin to heal.”
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