CDC: U.S. Smoking Decline Has Stalled

8-Year Drop in Percentage of Adult Smokers Has Leveled Off, Says CDC

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 26, 2006

Oct. 26, 2006 -- Nearly 21% of U.S. adults -- 45 million men and women -- smoked cigarettes last year, the same percentage as in 2004.

And Kentucky claimed the prize as the smokiest state.

The new statistics suggest "the 8-year decline in smoking prevalence among adults in the United States might be stalling," the CDC reports.

To revive the trend, the CDC suggests raising prices for tobacco products, launching quit-smoking media campaigns, and cutting smokers' out-of-pocket costs for quit-smoking programs, therapies, and counseling.

It's not that people weren't trying to quit smokingquit smoking.

About 19 million ditched cigarettes for at least one day last year in an attempt to quit, but they did not make it into the ranks of the 46.5 million Americans classified as former cigarette smokers in 2005.

The 2005 figures appear in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Data came from a nationwide government survey of more than 31,000 adults, 18 and older, who were interviewed in person.

Current smokers were defined as those who said they had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and reported smoking every day or some days.

Smokers' Statistics

The CDC estimates that 36.5 million people smoked cigarettes daily in 2005 (about eight in 10 current smokers)

About 8 million more smoked on some days, says the CDC.

Men were more likely than women to smoke cigarettes; nearly 24% of men were current cigarette smokers, compared to about 18% of women.

Young adults had the highest cigarette smoking rate of all age groups. Nearly a quarter of people 18-44 were current cigarette smokers.

Cigarette smoking was most common among people who hadn't finished high school, or who had a General Educational Development (GED) degree.

Ethnic statistics on cigarette smoking were as follows:

  • American Indians and Alaska Natives: 32%
  • Whites: 21.9%
  • Blacks: 21.5%
  • Hispanics: 16.2%
  • Asians: 13.3%

Smokiest States

Following are the CDC's percentages of adults who smoke for the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (States with the same percentage of adult smokers are listed in alphabetical order.):

1. Kentucky: 28.7%
2. Indiana: 27.3%
3. Tennessee: 26.8%
4. West Virginia: 26.6%
5. Oklahoma: 25.1%
6. Alaska: 25%
7. Alabama: 24.8%
8. Mississippi: 23.7%
8. Pennsylvania: 23.7%
9. Arkansas: 23.5%
10. Missouri: 23.4%
11. Nevada: 23.1%
12. North Carolina: 22.7%
13. Louisiana: 22.6%
13. South Carolina: 22.6%
14. Ohio: 22.3%
15. Georgia: 22.2%
16. Michigan: 22.1%
17. Florida: 21.6%
18. New Mexico: 21.5%
19. Nebraska: 21.3%
19. Wyoming: 21.3%
20. Maine: 20.9%
21. Wisconsin: 20.8%
22. Delaware: 20.7%
23. Virginia: 20.6%
24. New Hampshire: 20.5%
24. New York: 20.5%
25. Arizona: 20.4%
25. Iowa: 20.4%
26. Washington, D.C.: 20.1%
27. Minnesota: 20%
27. North Dakota: 20%
27. Texas: 20%
28. Colorado: 19.9%
28. Illinois: 19.9%
29. Rhode Island: 19.8%
29. South Dakota: 19.8%
30. Vermont: 19.3%
31. Montana: 19.2%
32. Maryland: 19%
33. Oregon: 18.5%
34. Massachusetts: 18.1%
34. New Jersey: 18.1%
35. Idaho: 17.9%
36. Kansas: 17.8%
37. Washington: 17.6%
38. Hawaii: 17.1%
39. Connecticut: 16.5%
40. California: 15.2%
41. Puerto Rico: 13.1%
42. Utah: 11.5%
43. U.S. Virgin Islands: 8.3%

The above statistics are based on a separate government survey of more than 356,000 U.S. adults who were interviewed by telephone.

15 Quit-Smoking Tips

As the CDC's study notes, millions have tried to quit smokingquit smoking, and millions have done so successfully.

But most people try several times before they kick the cigarette habit for good.

Here are some quit-smoking tips from the CDC:

  • Set a quit date.
  • Get rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays at home, work, and in your car.
  • Don't let people smoke around you.
  • Review your past attempts to quit smoking. Think about what worked and what didn't.
  • Once you quit, don't smoke -- not even a puff.
  • Ask for support from your friends, family, and co-workers.
  • Talk to your doctor or another health care provider.
  • Get individual, group, or telephone counseling.
  • Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke.
  • Do something to reduce your stressstress.
  • Plan something enjoyable to do every day
  • Consider asking your health care provider about medicines that might help you quit.
  • Be prepared for relapse and for difficult situations, such as stress, depressiondepression, or when you're drinking alcohol or are around other smokers.
  • Don't be discouraged if you start smoking again. But don't give up.

Ready to quit? The CDC suggests calling (800) QUIT-NOW or visiting

Show Sources

SOURCES: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Oct. 27, 2006; vol 55: pp 1145-1151. CDC: "Quit to Live: How and Why to Quit Smoking Today." News release, CDC.
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