Smoking rates among U.S. adults have hit an all-time low, new estimates say.
Approximately 14% of American adults said they were smokers last year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). While that’s still a significant number, encompassing more than 30 million Americans, it’s down from 16% the year before and roughly 20% in 2006. It’s also a significant drop-off from rates recorded around 50 years ago, which topped 40% by some estimates.
Today, men are more likely to smoke than women, according to responses to the NCHS’ National Health Interview Survey. For both sexes, smoking is most common among adults between the ages of 45 and 64.
Smoking is also on the decline among kids and teenagers. Just 7.6% of high school students and 2.1% of middle school students reported using cigarettes in 2017, according to recent CDC data. That’s down from roughly 16% and 4%, respectively, in 2011.
As cigarettes’ popularity wanes, however, e-cigarettes are making up some of the difference — particularly among young people. E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among both high school and middle school students, according to the CDC. Around 12% of high schoolers vaped in 2017, data shows, compared to about 3% of U.S. adults as of 2016.
The health effects of vaping are not well understood, and some evidence has shown that it may promote other forms of tobacco use among youth. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration has prioritized limiting youth access to e-cigarettes.