Smoking rates down, but not for all groups

Posted at 5:59 PM, Nov 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-12 21:38:45-05

According to a report prepared by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco smoking among adults in the United States has dropped well below 20 percent to 16.8 percent.

While the news is encouraging for the medical community, not all groups are seeing significant declines in smoking rates. Among them, uninsured adults are smoking at rates twice as high as Americans insured by private insurance.

In a nine-year span ranging from 2005 to 2014, the rate for adult tobacco smokers in America dropped from 20.9 percent to 16.8. Other encouraging news from the CDC showed that the amount of cigarettes used by daily smokers dropped from 16.7 per day in 2005 to 13.8 in 2014.

“Smoking kills half a million Americans each year and costs more than $300 billion,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a statement. “This report shows real progress helping American smokers quit and that more progress is possible.”

Mixed with the optimism was some sobering news. Nearly 27.9 percent of uninsured American adults, and 29.1 percent of Americans on Medicaid are daily tobacco smokers. Those rates compared to 12.9 percent for Americans who are insured privately.

People who live below the poverty level are 50 percent more likely to smoke. Also, those who are multiracial are more than 50 percent more likely to smoke than the general population.

People with a General Education Development certificate are nearly three times more likely to smoke than the rest of the population.

“These findings underscore the importance of ensuring that proven strategies to prevent and reduce tobacco use reach the entire population, particularly vulnerable groups," said Brian King, Ph.D., deputy director for research translation, CDC Office on Smoking and Health. “Comprehensive smoke-free laws, higher prices for tobacco products, high-impact mass media campaigns, and barrier-free access to quitting help are all important. They work to reduce the enormous health and financial burden of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure among Americans.”

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs.