In a major health milestone, United States smoking rates have hit a new all-time low since the rise in popularity of tobacco. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 16.8 percent of adults were smoking in 2014, down from 20.9 percent in 2005.
That decrease in smoking represents an almost 20 percent drop in the total number of smokers in the United States. One possible reason for the drop has been the advent and increased use of e-cigarettes. Still, though, there is a lot of work to be done.
"Disparities are the single most important issue in smoking," Kenneth Warner, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told the New York Times. "The people who are politically influential believe the smoking problem has been solved. It's not in their neighborhoods. Their friends don't smoke. Those who still smoke are the poor, the disenfranchised, the mentally ill. That's who we need to focus on."
And he's right: 26.3 percent of Americans living below the federal poverty line ($19,790 per year) still smoke. 29.1 percent of Americans on Medicaid, which is federally funded, also smoked.
CDC's report also included some not-so-positive news on the death toll of smoking: nearly 500,000 die from smoking every year, and it costs more than $300 billion annually. With hopes of helping slow the death toll and cost of smoking, the CDC proposed solutions such as "higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs that include mass media campaigns, and comprehensive, barrier-free health insurance coverage for smoking cessation treatments."
Are you a smoker trying to quit? Check out how to get started here.