American smokers hit 50-year low

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COLUMBIA - Fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes, or smoking less often, than any other time in the previous 50 years according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Wednesday. 

The report states just 17.8 percent of Americans are smokers, down from 18.1 percent in 2012 and 20.9 percent in 2005. 

"That is the lowest prevalence of adult smoking since the CDC's National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) began keeping such records in 1965," the CDC said in a statement.

Holly White, a Columbia resident and former smoker, said she's happy to see the downward trend. 

"Maybe people are finally getting it," White said. "It's something that is definitely harmful for you to do to your body." 

White started smoking in high school and smoked almost daily until 2006. 

"I got to a point where I wanted to do something better for myself," White said. "I knew it was hurting me, it was hurting my breathing, it was difficult."

According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans each year. While the number of conventional cigarette smokers is on the decline, other forms of tobacco smoking such as cigars and hookahs are increasing, especially among young adults and adolescents. 

"While it is good news that smoking continues to decline, it is disappointing and unacceptable that we're not making greater progress in reducing smoking," said Susan Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a statement.

Below are some key findings from the CDC's report:

  • 25 to 44 year-olds make up the largest age group of smokers
  • Multi-racial individuals smoke more than other races
  • After grade 11, the higher the education level, the lower percentage of the population smokes
  • Based on U.S. Census region, the Midwest has the highest percentage of smokers


The CDC report defined "current smokers" as "persons who reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes during their lifetime" and "reported smoking every day or some days."