Fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes than ever, new CDC data reveals – but health officials have growing concerns over the number who now vape.
Smoking is a leading cause of death in the US, and Americans are finally getting the message and quitting cigarettes.
But even as smoking rates have plummeted by 30 percent in the last 10 years, tobacco use of some form has stagnated with about one in five adults still indulging.
In recent years, nicotine e-cigarettes have become a cultural phenomenon.
Though they were initially marketed as quitting aids, now even people who had never smoked – especially teenagers – are taking up the trendy devices, despite clear evidence that they are harmful to health.
Next week, the American Cancer Society will hold its 43rd annual Great American Smokeout, urging Americans to quit – but some experts say the event’s focus needs to shift to raising awareness among vapers and other tobacco users.
Fewer Americans are smoking than ever, according to the latest figures from the CDC. Smoking has declined by 30 percent in the last decade – but dangerous vaping is on the rise
We’ve come a long way in the war on cigarettes.
In 1965, more than half of men and nearly half of all Americans smoked cigarettes.
By 2017, only 14 percent of Americans smoked cigarettes.
It’s the lowest proportion of smokers since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started monitoring cigarette use more than 50 years ago.
‘This new all-time low in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults is a tremendous public health accomplishment – and it demonstrates the importance of continued proven strategies to reduce smoking,’ said CDC director Robert Redfield.
But it’s still a lot of people – and even more once users of other tobacco products are included in the numbers.
A clear and causal link has been established between smoking and lung cancer as well as a wide array of other health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Even between 2016 and 2017, there was a marked and encouraging 23 percent decline in 18- to 24-year-olds who smoked, according to the CDC’s data.
Cigarettes contain a number of added carcinogens – besides the chemicals in tobacco itself – that make them particularly harmful.
But that doesn’t mean alternative tobacco products are safe.
‘Despite this progress, work remains to reduce the harmful health effects of tobacco use,’ Redfield said.
Though cigarettes have remained the most popular way to use tobacco, some other forms are creeping up and disparities between who is using tobacco products persist.
Nearly three percent of Americans now admit to using e-cigarettes. The devices are too new for their exact health effects to be clear, but research has shown indications that they may be just as bad for the cardiovascular system as cigarettes are.
And they’re certainly as addicting.
Experts suggest e-cigarettes can deliver an even more potent dose of nicotine to users.
While the devices are largely marketed as healthier alternatives to combustible tobacco, may Americans don’t switch from one tobacco product to another – they simply add the next one on.
Nearly 20 percent of those that used any tobacco products used two or more types.
And tobacco use is still most common among Americans who are poorer, less educated and in racial or sexual minorities.
Americans are also more likely to be drawn to tobacco if they are distressed, disabled, single or living in the South or Midwest.
On November 14, the American Cancer Society will encourage anyone who smokes to give it up en masse for the Great American Smokeout.
But currently, the foundation’s website still advises that a nicotine replacement alongside other methods may help make sure a quitting attempt becomes a success story.
The latest evidence suggests what while a patch or nicotine gum might be relatively safe ways to get off the addicting substance, health officials may soon call for e-cigs to be removed form the list of alternatives.