Good News: Fewer U.S. Adults Smoke than Ever Before

Good News: Fewer U.S. Adults Smoke than Ever Before
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There was a time in America when smoking was considered cool and chic, but those days are long gone. Now, most people understand the deadly effects of smoking, with fresh estimates from the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) showing that fewer U.S. adults smoke than ever before. [1]

Natural Society

  • “For 2017, the percentage of adults aged 18 and over who were current cigarette smokers was 13.9% (95% confidence interval = 13.46%-14.44%) which was lower than the 2016 estimate of 15.8%.

  • The prevalence of current cigarette smoking among U.S. adults was stable from 2006 (20.8%) to 2009 (20.6%), and then decreased to 13.9% in 2017.”

Natural Society

About 14% of American adults considered themselves smokers in 2017, according to the NCHS. That’s still a fairly high percentage – it means that more than 30 million adults still puff on cigarettes – but it’s down from 16% in 2016 and approximately 20% in 2006.

Read: CDC: The Smoking Rate Dropped to 15% in 2015

Fifty years ago, the U.S. smoking rate was more than 40%, by some estimates.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Here are some stats according to responses given to the NCHS’ National Health Interview Survey, which surveyed about 27,000 adults:

  • In modern America, men are more likely than women to smoke cigarettes.
  • Smoking is most common among adults between the ages of 45 and 64 – a portion of the country that grew up during at least part of smoking’s cool and chic phase. [1] [2]
  • Fewer children and teens are smoking, too. In 2017, just 7.6% of high school students and 2.1% of middle school students reported smoking cigarettes, the CDC data shows.
  • In 2011, 16% of high-schoolers and 4% of middle-schoolers said they used cigarettes. [1]

But there was a downside to the survey. While cigarette smoking may be decreasing, e-cigarettes are increasing in popularity, particularly among young people.

  • E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among both high school and middle school students.
  • About 12% of kids in high school vaped in 2017. By comparison, only about 3% of U.S. adults said they vaped in 2016.

The health effects of vaping are still murky, but some studies suggest that vaping may promote cigarette smoking and other forms of tobacco use among youth. In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started cracking down on the sale and marketing of e-cigarette products to kids.


[1] Time

[2] The Associated Press