U.S. Adult Smoking Rate Stabilizes After Decline

About one-fifth of adults are smokers; secondhand smoke exposure remains high among nonsmokers
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The proportion of U.S. adult smokers has remained stable since a decline between 2000 and 2005, with rates of secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers remaining high despite recent decreases, according to two early-release reports published Sept. 7 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

One report revealed that 20.6 percent of U.S. adults ≥18 were current cigarette smokers in 2009, with men more likely than women to be current smokers (23.5 versus 17.9 percent). In addition, the prevalence of smoking was higher among those living below the federal poverty level (31.1 percent). Among adults ≥25 years of age, the prevalence of smoking was 5.6 percent among individuals with a graduate degree, compared to 28.5 percent among those with less than a high school diploma. The proportion of adults who were current smokers remained relatively stable between 2005 and 2009 (20.9 percent in 2005 and 20.6 percent in 2009).

Another report revealed that 88 million nonsmokers ≥3 years of age were exposed to secondhand smoke during 2007 to 2008. The prevalence of serum cotinine levels ≥0.05 ng/mL among nonsmokers decreased from 52.5 percent during 1999 to 2000 to 40.1 percent during 2007 to 2008 (this decline was significant among all groups but non-Hispanic whites). The prevalence was highest among males, non-Hispanic blacks, individuals aged 3 to 19 years, and those living below the federal poverty level.

"Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death in this country," CDC director, Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., said in a statement. "But progress is possible. Strong state laws that protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, higher cigarette prices, aggressive ad campaigns that show the human impact of smoking, and well-funded tobacco control programs decrease the number of adult smokers and save lives."

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