Smoking rates in the United States have been stable at 20% since 2005, except in states with comprehensive tobacco control programs. These findings were recently reported in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Although cancer remains an important cause of illness and death in the United States, progress is being made in prevention, early detection, and treatment. A change in lifestyle, such as not smoking, can help prevent lung, bladder, head and neck, and other cancers. Research has demonstrated that the combined effect on mortality risk of poor health behaviors such as physical activity, diet, smoking, and alcohol consumption is substantial. Therefore, even modest improvements in these behaviors could have a significant positive effect on public health. Education and awareness campaigns aimed at promoting smoking cessation have been in the forefront and have had much success in the last 40 years in decreasing the smoking rate.

In the recent report by the CDC, data indicate that over the past five years, smoking rates have stabilized in the United States.

  • In 2009 20.6% of U.S. adults smoked (23.5% of men and 17.9% of women).
  • Smoking was more prevalent for individuals below the poverty level.
  • Smoking also varied by education: 28.5% of those with less than a high school education smoked compared with only 5.6% of people with a graduate degree.
  • Smoking rates tended to be lowest in the West (16.4%). States that have implemented comprehensive tobacco control programs—such as California—have seen substantial declines in smoking rates in recent years.

Stronger prevention programs are warranted to improve smoking cessation rates. As the leading cause of preventable death, smoking is still a large burden to our society and protection of non-smokers should be an important priority.


Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years — United States, 2009. MMWR. 2010:59;1135-1140.

Copyright © 2017 . All Rights Reserved.