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US Sees Decrease In Tobacco Product Use Among Adults, But Cigarette Smoking Remains High: CDC Report

Nearly 31 million U.S. adults reported smoking cigarettes in 2020.

Cigarettes remained the most commonly used product among US adults, followed by e-cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipes.

The use of tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes, is declining among U.S. adults 18 years old or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

According to the report released this week, 19 per cent of U.S. adults used at least one tobacco product in 2020, down from 20.8 per cent in 2019.

In 2020, an estimated 47.1 million (nearly 1 in 5 adults) reported current (every day or some days) tobacco product use, including 30.8 million who smoked cigarettes.

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For the study, the CDC analyzed data from the 2020 National Health Interview Survey, which assessed use of five tobacco products: cigarettes, cigars (cigars, cigarillos, or filtered little cigars), pipes (regular pipes, water pipes, or hookahs), e-cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco.

The study found that, in 2020, cigarettes remained the most commonly used product (12.5 per cent), followed by e-cigarettes (3.7 per cent), cigars (3.5 per cent), smokeless tobacco (2.3 per cent, and pipes (1.1 per cent).

Factors contributing to decline in tobacco product use

The CDC report cited high-impact anti-tobacco media campaigns, smokefree policies, and policies limiting the availability of specific types of tobacco products, such as flavored products, among the factors that appear to contribute to the decline in cigarette smoking and other tobacco product use in the US.

"We have made significant progress in preventing and reducing tobacco product use in this country by using proven strategies and implementing effective policies," said Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, Director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Despite declines, cigarette smoking remains high

According to the CDC report, adult cigarette smoking declined to the lowest prevalence recorded since it was 42 per cent in 1965. The percentage of adults who smoked cigarettes declined from 14.0 per cent in 2019 to 12.5 per cent in 2020. Yet nearly 31 million U.S. adults reported smoking cigarettes in 2020.

The report noted that although there is decrease in the use of tobacco products overall among U.S. adults, use of combustible products remains high. It revealed that more than three-fourths of adults who currently use tobacco products use combustible products (such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes), which are the predominant cause of tobacco-related disease, disability, and death in the United States.

"Despite significant declines in adult tobacco use, our work is far from over. We must continue to address tobacco-related health disparities and inequities to ensure everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible," Hacker asserted.

In order to reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease, disability, and death in the United States, the report highlighted the need for implementation of comprehensive, evidence-based, population-level interventions, in coordination with regulation of tobacco products. These strategies include:

  • implementation of tobacco price increases
  • comprehensive smoke-free policies
  • high impact antitobacco media campaigns and
  • barrier-free access to cessation services.

"Continued monitoring of tobacco use, and tailored strategies and policies that reach populations with high rates of tobacco use, could further aid in reducing disparities in tobacco product use," the report added.

Remember no tobacco product use is risk-free and quitting smoking at any age is beneficial for health.

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