March 28, 2022 -- Tobacco use dropped among U.S. adults in 2020, hitting the lowest levels since the mid-1960s, according to a new study from the CDC.

From 2019 to 2020, the percentage of adults who use any type of tobacco product decreased from 21% to 19%. The percentage of adults who smoke cigarettes dropped from 14% to 12.5%, and the percentage who use e-cigarettes or vaping devices decreased from 4.5% to 3.7%.

“This is definitely positive news as these numbers are continuing a downward trend in tobacco use we’ve seen in the past few years,” Thomas Carr, the national director of policy at the American Lung Association, told UPI.

“That said, tobacco use is a big cause of lung disease, so the problem isn’t solved,” he said.

The research team analyzed data from more than 31,000 adults who took the 2020 National Health Interview Survey, which included questions about the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco.

Current cigarette smoking was defined as smoking 100 or more cigarettes during one’s lifetime and now smoking cigarettes “every day” or “some days.” For other products, such as cigars and vaping pens, current smokers were those who used them “every day” or “some days” at the time of the survey.

The researchers found that about 47 million U.S. adults reported using any tobacco product, making up 19% of the adult population. That included 12.5% for cigarettes, 3.7% for e-cigarettes and vaping products, 3.5% for cigars, 2.3% for smokeless tobacco, and 1.1% for pipes.

Overall, the 2020 numbers hit the lowest level since the data was first collected in 1965, the researchers wrote.

Among those who reported current tobacco product use, nearly 80% used combustible products such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, and 17% used two or more tobacco products.

Tobacco use was higher among men, adults under age 65, those in rural areas, those with lower income and education, uninsured adults or those with Medicaid, adults living with a disability, those who reported regular feelings of anxiety and depression, LGBTQ adults, and non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native adults.

“The tobacco industry has historically targeted rural and low-income areas with increased advertising, price promotions and access to tobacco retailers, thereby contributing to an environment where tobacco use is viewed as normal,” the researchers wrote.

Among adults who smoked cigarettes daily, the percentage who reported smoking 20-29 cigarettes per day decreased from 35% in 2005 to 28% in 2020. Those who reported smoking 30 or more cigarettes per day decreased from 12.7% to 6.4%. At the same time, the percentage who reported smoking 1-9 cigarettes per day increased from 16.4% to 25%.

The CDC researchers suggested ways to reduce tobacco use and tobacco-related disease and death, such as raising the price of tobacco products, having smoke-free policies in public places, and increasing access to ways to quit using tobacco.

“Continued monitoring of tobacco product use and tailored strategies and policies that reduce the effects of inequitable conditions (e.g., poverty, housing, and access to health care) could further aid in reducing disparities in tobacco use,” the researchers wrote.

Show Sources

CDC: “Tobacco Product Use Among Adults -- United States, 2020.”

UPI: “Tobacco use declined among U.S. adults in 2020, CDC reports.”

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