CDC reports current smokers have declined

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COLUMBIA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked 100,000 people about their smoking habits and found current cigarette smokers have declined.

The new data was released from the 2015 survey.

According to the report, U.S. adults who currently smoke cigarettes declined from 24.7 percent in 1997 to 15.1 percent in 2015. The survey did not ask Americans if they used e-cigarettes.

Here is the data of current cigarette smokers by age group: 

  • 18–44 (16.5%)
  • 45–64 (16.9%)
  • 65 plus (8.4%) 
 
In December 2014, KOMU 8 News reported Columbia City Council members had approved measures banning selling tobacco products to people under 21. 
 
Adults under 21 still may smoke tobacco products within Columbia city limits. The ordinance restricts the selling and purchasing age. 
 
Missouri law requires a person to be at least 18-years-old to buy cigarettes. 
 
Seth Reynolds, owner of Eye Candy tobacco shop, said he saw a slight decline in cigarette sales since the Columbia ban, but most people buying cigarettes from his store were already 21 and older. 
 
Reynolds said the national and local decline in smoking cigarettes could be attributed to two main reasons, the first being the rise of e-cigarettes. 
 
"A lot of people that have had trouble quitting over the years have used electronic cigarettes and have weaned themselves off of nicotine," Reynolds said.  Instead of having to smoke a full cigarette every time, you're able to lower your dosage so eventually you can get it to where you almost have no nicotine."
 
He said the second reason the smoking trend is on the decline is the general public's attitude toward smoking. 
 
"A lot of [cigarette smokers] are being discriminated against as far as their areas where they can actually smoke are becoming less and less," Reynolds said. "The way they're viewed by the general public has become more negative over the years, like 'you're unhealthy person or a selfish person for smoking'," Reynolds said.
 
Columbia resident Adam Hickman smokes cigarettes and said he feels as though there is a negative stigma associated with smoking.
 
"People look at you if you're a smoker they assume you aren't as intelligent." 
 
Reynolds said it's nationally becoming harder to smoke a cigarette due to bans in some areas. 
 
"You're still using a product that's 100 percent legal within the eyes of the law. It's just that there seems to be a whole attitude like you're just kind of a dirty person."
 
Reynolds noted smoking could have taken a downhill turn for other reasons such as health issues, high taxes on cigarettes, and health insurance costs.

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