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Fewer Americans are smoking, CDC finds
September 6th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

Fewer Americans are smoking, CDC finds

The number of adults in the United States who smoke declined by about 1.5%, or 3 million people, from 2005 to 2010, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also found that the number of habitual smokers - those who light up 30 or more cigarettes a day - dropped from 13% in 2005 to 8% in 2010.

"About one-third of all current smokers may die from cigarette use unless they quit promptly," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said. "So we're talking about preventing more than a million deaths because of that decline."

Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said the decline in smokers since the first Surgeon General's report in the mid-1960s is due largely to societal influences.

"We've seen a de-normalization of smoking," McAfee said. He noted the clean air laws that have gone into effect, as well as cigarette tax increases. "So, it's a little harder for people to smoke, but it's also people feel - feel like they want to cut down."

Colleges going smoke-free

However, tobacco use still remains the single largest preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the U.S., according to a CDC statement. Nearly one in five adults still smoke and 78.2% of those who do, smoke every day.

“Any decline in the number of people who smoke and the number of cigarettes consumed is a step in the right direction," Frieden said. "However, tobacco use remains a significant health burden for the people of United States."

Each year, an estimated 443,000 people in the U.S. die from smoking-related causes. But McAfee warns about another side effect of cigarettes.

"In these economic times it's important to remember that in addition to the terrible cost of human life, there's also a significant financial burden that smoking places on all of us," he said.

The CDC reports that smoking costs the U.S. about $193 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity.

Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of people who smoked heavily - more than a pack a day - decreased significantly, while the percentage of people who smoke less than half a pack a day increased, according to the report. Unfortunately, smoking less is not enough, Frieden said.

"Smokers not only die much younger than nonsmokers, but for the years that they're alive, they feel much older."

Quitting isn't easy - nicotine is an addictive drug and cigarettes deliver more nicotine now than ever before, the CDC reported.

"We know what works: higher tobacco prices, hard-hitting media campaigns, graphic health warnings on cigarette packs, and 100 percent smoke-free policies, with easily accessible help for those who want to quit," said McAfee.

Smokers can get free resources and help quitting by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) or by visiting www.smokefree.gov.


soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. kevin

    good riddence.

    September 6, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Good news. Maybe the message that smoking kills is getting through.

    September 6, 2011 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sam

      Now let them go after the REAL KILLER " ALCOHOL" then they will be saving 2.5 million lives world wide and the 900,000 deadly accidents a year,and the child and spousal abuse,and the liver transplants

      September 7, 2011 at 04:42 | Report abuse |
    • eeyore

      Not the subject of this article. Just because you think alcohol is worse doesn't make it so and your constant whining about it is a bore.

      September 7, 2011 at 19:23 | Report abuse |
  3. kevin

    i like your posts tom, good to see that not all of CNN commentors are ignorant. You rocked in the smoking adults vs. innocent children.

    September 6, 2011 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, thanks.

      September 6, 2011 at 19:37 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Actually he was trolling there and calling people morons. Are you him under a different name, like eeyore was?

      September 7, 2011 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I believe you called me a moron, jackazz.

      September 7, 2011 at 19:34 | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff

    A "habitual smoker" smokes THIRTY a day according to this definition!!??

    How about, if you smoke ANYTHING every day, you're a habitual smoker?

    What a stupid parameter.

    September 6, 2011 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That would hardly be useful for the purposes of a study.

      September 6, 2011 at 19:38 | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Jeff: they have overblown all of this they LIE

      September 7, 2011 at 04:43 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Again, what exactly have "they" "lied" about?

      September 7, 2011 at 19:32 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I guess sam didn't bother to read the study on moderate drinking and how it actually seems to have benefits.

      Never saw a single study that proved cigarettes were good for anyone.

      Maybe sam has. I suspect he "sees" lots of things. Like black helicopters.

      September 7, 2011 at 19:36 | Report abuse |
  5. WakeEntry

    Why would we want to get rid of smoking? It's one of the better forms of population control. Let people smoke. Your smoke does not bother me one bit.

    September 6, 2011 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, it bothers me. You're not the center of the universe.

      September 6, 2011 at 21:04 | Report abuse |
  6. linda

    I quit in 2005 so I'm part of that statistic. Can't stand cigarettes now around me.

    September 6, 2011 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sam

      So stay Hoe where you belong Linda

      September 7, 2011 at 04:44 | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      Good for you, Linda! You can be proud of kicking such a nasty, addictive habit.

      September 7, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
  7. Dr. Koop

    The tobacco companies have killed more people than Stalin and Hitler combined. Why do they still exist?

    September 6, 2011 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • waitwhat

      everyone dies....

      September 7, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
    • Bible Clown

      It's easier to give up smoking than it was to avoid the German Nazi Party, for one thing. They don't give you cancer for being Jewish, for another.

      September 7, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
  8. Liz

    I quit smoking several yrs ago and made my husband quit too. We love the smoking "bans" and not having the stink of smoke while we eat or go anywhere. We laugh about smokers all the time how they can keep paying $7-9 a day to feel like crap all the time. We don't feel sorry for our family members who always have finacial troubles but can find money for cigs. If you want to smoke that's your right. I like being a nonsmoker and I'll keep my health and my cash.

    September 6, 2011 at 23:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dom625

      Wonderful for you, not so much for your husband. Did he cave because you nagged? I would dare my husband to "make" me do anything I didn't want to do.

      And I laugh at you for bowing to societal pressure. I smoke because I like it and will quit only when I am good and ready to (which won't be anytime soon). I pay outrageous taxes to smoke, so if anything, everyone should be thanking us for contributing so much to the economy.

      September 7, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
    • Brenden

      You "made" your husband quit? Lol...

      September 7, 2011 at 10:47 | Report abuse |
    • PolishKnight

      Dom625, all of the smokers I have ever known started smoking because of social pressure. That's why most anti-smoking campaigns don't work. Most smokers start as kids and to fit in with their peer group. When my wife and I have kids, we're going to monitor their choice of friends very carefully. Eagles hang out with eagles.

      Suggestion: Try going all natural for a month or so. I do this myself: No soda, processed foods, tea, coffee, etc. Just water and fresh salad and vegetables and oatmeal. Minimize TV time and read a book out on the patio and breath as much fresh air as possible. Drink filtered water.

      When was the last time you did that? You'll be amazed at how it clears your head and the weight falls off. You still enjoy all of your vices later (mine is diet coke) but you find that you taste them stronger afterwards and need them less.

      September 7, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
    • Bible Clown

      "When my wife and I have kids, we're going to monitor their choice of friends very carefully. Eagles hang out with eagles." Man, if I had a nickel for every . . . . you can't teach your kids to judge their peers and you can't raise them in a cage. Just try to be sure they are the eagles and let the others try to catch them. Life is complicated.

      September 7, 2011 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
    • eeyore

      I'm curious, dom: how old are you? How long have you been smoking?

      September 7, 2011 at 19:19 | Report abuse |
    • eeyore

      I wonder if you know how bad you smell to others, dom.

      September 7, 2011 at 19:24 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I wonder, dom, how you can be a teacher and attempt to influence children to live healthy lives when every one of your students knows you are a smoker.

      September 7, 2011 at 20:19 | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      @Dom, what smokers contribute in taxes is probably negated by the huge burden they place on our healthcare system via the myriad of smoking related illnesses. I used to smoke, but quit about 15 years ago. You don't smoke because you like it, you smoke because you're addicted to nicotine.

      September 8, 2011 at 06:51 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      Eeyore, I don't see why you would need my age, but suffice it to say that I have smoked for twenty years.

      Tom, the question of whether I smoke does not come up in my class. I do not smoke at work; I stay so busy that I have no time for that.

      And Sue, I don't smoke because of the nicotine–I smoke because I LIKE it. Is that so hard to understand? If it were truly nicotine addiction, it would bother me every minute I'm at work, but it doesn't.

      Polish, I don't see where the whole "weight falling off" thing comes into this discussion, but I am not looking to lose weight. I'm thin already. And I regularly spend time on my back porch with a good book; I just have my cigarettes next to me while I'm there.

      And actually, it has been shown that since we die sooner, we save the healthcare system money. Check out the site below–healthy people cost the system more money than smokers or obese folk. Put that in your pipe and smoke it...

      http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050029

      September 8, 2011 at 08:31 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How laughable you are, dom. Your students know you smoke because you stink. It doesn't matter whether you smoke at work or not; smokers smell no matter what.

      Really, you are beyond lame.

      September 8, 2011 at 18:31 | Report abuse |
  9. The Dude

    How will I know I am dealing with a true moron if I can't see them smoking? I guess I will have to talk to them ...yuck.

    September 7, 2011 at 00:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thizz

      or you can just look in a mirror.

      September 7, 2011 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      I like your insolence!

      September 7, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Just wait for them to say "Duuuude."

      September 7, 2011 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
  10. Otis Motis

    Glad thing to hear. I would offer credit to some of the emerging electronic cigarette technology companies such as appealing smokes, green smoke, blu cigs, and many others. Those electronic cigarettes helped me wean off traditional tobacco and i am happy to say i have got friends to as well. Live strong, vape on!

    September 7, 2011 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Martin

      Thanks for an obviously planted promotional message for the electronic cigarette folks. The next wave of nicotine addiction. What a service to humanity!

      September 7, 2011 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      The idea with those things is to taper off so you are just 'smoking' water vapor. Still looks kinda unsafe to me. One day they are all going to spit up green and start groaning "BRAINS" as they chase us around. There's a commercial endorsement for ya.

      September 7, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
  11. sam

    I mean Home Linda sorry

    September 7, 2011 at 04:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. thizz

    hmmm, well according to the CDC only 1 out of every 3 smokers will die from a smoking related death. I'll take those odds. 2 out of 3 isn't bad.

    September 7, 2011 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Martin

      Yeah, and just think, you can take out a few non-smokers too with your second-hand smoke. What fun!

      September 7, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • thizz

      I bet you can't show me one death attributed to 2nd hand smoke alone. There are so many carcinogens and pollutants in the environment its ridiculous and if you live in the city its even worse. I'm not denying that 2nd hand smoke isn't harmful, but it is ridiculous to assume that non-smokers dieing from typical smoking related deaths can all be attributed to a little bit of 2nd hand smoke. Lets see a person can smoke a pack a day for 20 some years before their health sees significant change, how can you honestly say being exposed to a couple breaths of 2nd hand smoke a day will have a huge effect?
      Also, I feel most non-smokers forget that 100 out of 100 people will die eventually.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse |
  13. dom625

    How is smoking the number one preventable cause of death and disease when obesity is far more prevalent? Not to mention the fact that obesity costs us far more money overall than smokers do.

    And I don't know who exactly they interviewed, but I don't feel any older because of smoking.

    September 7, 2011 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brenden

      It's still number 1 because they want it to be number 1.

      September 7, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
    • Bacon

      Ending smoking is far easier and cheaper than ending obesity, so for what it's worth, you're getting a good cost/benefit outcome through smoking cessation.

      But I agree, obesity is a very serious issue.

      September 7, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
    • Martin

      No doubt you're used to feeling like crap.

      September 7, 2011 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      Actually, Martin, I feel great. I'm hardly ever sick and haven't been to the doctor (for an illness) in years. My cholesterol, blood pressure, pulse rate, etc. are perfectly normal. I exercise five times a week to boot. And I feel perfectly fine.

      September 7, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • fitforlife

      Dom625 – do your workouts consist of walking outside to smoke? There is no way in hell you'll be able to be a runner if you smoke – stop the denial and quit.

      September 7, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      Well, fit, who said anything about running? My workouts consist of a forty-five to sixty minute cardio/weight combination (otherwise known as the Firm) four times a week and power yoga once a week. I can hang with most people.

      And I don't go outside to smoke. At work, I'm too busy to even think about it. And until someone else pays my mortgage each month, I will continue to smoke in my house.

      September 7, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
  14. Brenden

    I love how they keep talking about the "burden" smokers are putting on everyone else. As soon as smokers start getting reimbursed for their lost years of Social Security because of their premature death, then maybe we can start talking about what smokers need to pay to even things out. Fact of the matter is, just Social Security alone saves billions of dollars a year because of smoking. This doesn't count all of the other guaranteed annuity pensions out there that are saving big bucks from smokers dying.

    September 7, 2011 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bacon

      So long and thanks for all the unpaid bills related to emphysema

      September 7, 2011 at 10:57 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      Bacon, I pay insurance premiums just like anyone else. In addition, I pay astronomical taxes for my cigarettes, which benefits society. We are paying more than our fair share and yet we are ostracized everywhere. Would you deny medical care to someone who drinks excessively and has liver failure? Or to someone who eats constantly, is overweight, and has numerous medical issues? How can you deny smokers if you do not deny others?

      September 7, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • jofish

      Those costs are more than supplanted by the costs to Medicare & Medicaid that smokers rack up for treatment of emphysema and lung cancer.

      September 7, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      What about the costs involved with keeping anyone alive past their time? Should we discontinue care for them? Should we only allow health care for certain groups of people? Can we refuse alcoholics, people with STDs, obese people?

      September 7, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If that were the subject here, I'd be happy to discuss it. But it isn't.

      September 7, 2011 at 20:05 | Report abuse |
  15. NJ Hypnotist James Malone

    As someone who helps people quit smoking in a professional capacity, I have noticed an increase in the number of people who cite the expense of the habit as a reason to stop.

    September 7, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Damon

    Liquid nicotine is the future. Get some. You will not stink, you live longer, and you can do it almost anywhere. For now, the government hasn't done much, it is a free market. It currently costs me less than $10 a week, for liquid and stuff, for a 2 pack a day smoker, which 1.5 years ago cost around $60 a week.

    September 7, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bible Clown

      Man, that stuff is poison. The idea is to wean yourself off nicotine, not find a better dealer. Switch to crack.

      September 7, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
  17. NYCMovieFan

    This is GREAT news! People are getting smarter! Now we need to ban smoking ads in all forms of media, and fining anyone who exposes others to second hand smoke. Make it an offense like DUI and save more lives!!!!

    September 7, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • waitwhat

      wait, so smoking should be as bad as dui?

      you should probably just stay at home all day everyday so you cant get the harmfullness of the outside world.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:55 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      And you will be required to wear a crash helmet in the shower so you don't fall down. Lots of people die from that, and we should just make it mandatory. Also we need to remove salt and protein from all food, and ban automobiles. Safety first, children, or maybe we aren't children and prefer to decide for ourselves about stuff? I don't smoke, but if I did, I might shoot you for messing with me that way. You ok with that?

      September 7, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  18. jujubeans

    It's time for a Boston Tobacco Party. The taxes on cigs are outrageous. They should either outlaw it completely or limit the taxes to, say, 50% of the product cost.

    September 7, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. drb

    Electronic cigarettes are the way to go if you have tried everything else and nothing works. They really work to wean you off cigarettes and smoke altogether...and actually the craving for nicotine eventually... Better than not quitting at all.

    September 7, 2011 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Partsfreak

    Smoking will be over in another generation. With the price of smokes now, kids wont start. As the older generation will dies off so will the habit of smoking. The government will tax them out of existence for all but the rich and extremely stupid.

    September 7, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. aginghippy

    It's really simple, folks. If you are going to declare war on every human activity which endangers lives, you can't single out tobacco use. You must go after alcohol, fast food, and many dangerous sports and recreation activities. Otherwise, you are simply a new and outrageous kind of bigot.

    September 7, 2011 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who's declaring war? Please, spare me the outrage on behalf of the poor, put-upon smokers.

      The article is about fewer people smoking. Please show me what the down-side of that might be.

      September 7, 2011 at 19:53 | Report abuse |
  22. Renee

    I am a smoker. I have a love/hate relationship with cigarettes. But, I don't won't other people dictating my life and yes, the fact of the matter is, obesity is far more costly to the American health system than smoking. I have an obese friend who takes many prescription meds, had a gastric bypass, is diabetic and is seeing a doctor every time I turn around. I wonder what all that costs. I, on the other hand, have a yearly physical and pass with flying colors and other than an occasional cold, rarely get sick. That said, smoking is a horrible habit and I hope one day soon I can finally quit.

    September 7, 2011 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you have any statistics or sources to back up your belief that obesity is more costly to society than is smoking? Cite your sources, please.

      September 7, 2011 at 20:59 | Report abuse |
  23. eeyore

    I love seeing smokers on the defensive. Cracks me up.

    Good luck defending yourself when you are diagnosed with lung cancer.

    September 7, 2011 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thizz

      God luck living forever... o wait.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Good luck dying of lung cancer at a younger age than your non-smoking contemporaries. I'm sure your pals will shed many tears over your early demise.

      September 8, 2011 at 18:36 | Report abuse |
  24. Anon

    Smoking is one cause of cancer that is obvious and preventable.

    September 7, 2011 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yes, it is.

      Apparently, more people are realizing it this and choosing not to start smoking. That's all to the good.

      September 7, 2011 at 20:07 | Report abuse |
  25. mavsfan93

    Nobody should be smoking! Whoever decides to put these cancersticks in their mouths are half-retarded.

    September 7, 2011 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thizz

      I guess Einstein was half-retarded then.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:58 | Report abuse |
  26. Mr. Chekhov

    My in-laws smoked for decades. Whenever my husband and I visited them, we'd return home to find that our suitcases and all the clothes in them reeked of cigarette smoke. When they finally stopped smoking, it was too late to reverse the effects. My husband's father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and died one month later.

    It's a lousy death.

    September 7, 2011 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Chad

    Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son, you are a troll. Your only source of information is this news article. It's not difficult to research (I know it requires a bit of work) and find out that obesity is the bigger threat here. Why do we see astronomical and ILLEGAL taxes on cigarettes? Why don't we see a 3% Fast food, candy and soda obesity tax? Why not make more money off of a minority? It's absolutely rediculous. This is a rights issue. The Government taxes the hell out of cigarettes as a disguise to force people to quit.

    September 8, 2011 at 04:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Then you should be able to provide a cite for your source of information. Either do so, or admit you don't have any proof of your claim.

      The only troll here is you.

      September 8, 2011 at 18:33 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, and thanks for the laugh. I always get a bang out of self-righteous indignation expressed by people who can't even spell the word "ridiculous". It's precious, honey, really.

      September 8, 2011 at 18:34 | Report abuse |
  28. Chad

    And, for all of you who keep calling us retarded, remember that everytime you smack your lips on a greasy cheeseburger, or remember that when you feed your obese relative mcdonalds. You are the retard. Wow. We live in the United States, where people are allowed to make their own decisions. I don't ask questions when I see someone with foodstamps, obese, buying 3 24-pack pepsi's. I don't agree with it, but I'm not going to put them on blast either.

    September 8, 2011 at 04:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Feel better now, dear?

      September 8, 2011 at 18:34 | Report abuse |
  29. SHRIKE

    I miss how cool smoking made me.

    September 8, 2011 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hook up with Chad. He thinks he's the epitome of cool.

      September 8, 2011 at 20:13 | Report abuse |
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