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Cigarette Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2001

October 10, 2003 / Vol. 52 / No. 40

MMWR Highlights

  • In 2001, 46.2 million adults (22.8 percent) in the United States were current smokers—25.2 percent of men and 20.7 percent of women.
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, smoking prevalence was highest among American Indians/Alaska Natives (32.7 percent) and lowest among Hispanics (16.7 percent) and Asians (12.4 percent).
  • Among income groups, smoking prevalence was higher among adults living below the poverty level (31.4 percent) than those at or above the poverty level (23.0 percent).
  • Smoking prevalence was highest among those aged 18–24 (26.9 percent) and 25–44 (25.8 percent) and lowest among those aged 65 and over (10.1 percent).
  • Among current adult smokers, 37.8 million (81.8 percent) smoked every day, and 8.4 million (18.2 percent) smoked some days.
  • An estimated 44.7 million adults were former smokers in 2001, representing 49.2 percent of those who had ever smoked. An estimated 15.3 million adult smokers had stopped smoking for at least 1 day during the preceding 12 months because they were trying to quit.
  • By education level, adults who had earned a General Educational Development (GED) diploma (47.8 percent) and those with a grade 9–11 education (34.3 percent) had the highest prevalence of smoking; those with master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees had the lowest prevalence (9.5 percent).
  • Smoking prevalence data from combined years 1965–1966 through 2000–2001 indicate a slow but steady decrease among both blacks and whites.
  • In 2000–2001, for the first time, smoking prevalence among black men was similar to that among white men. Since 1970–1974, prevalence has declined more rapidly among black men than among white men.
  • In 2000-2001, smoking prevalence also declined more rapidly among black women than white women. Since 1993–1995, prevalence among black women has been lower, except during 1997 to 1999, when no difference was observed. Before 1993–1995, current smoking prevalences among black and white women generally were comparable, except during 1970–1974, when prevalence among white women was lower.
  • The overall decline in cigarette smoking prevalence in the adult U.S. population is not occurring at a rate that will meet the national health objective of 12 percent.
  • In 2000, the Surgeon General concluded that the 2010 objective could be attained only if comprehensive approaches to tobacco control were implemented. Sustaining or increasing implementation of comprehensive tobacco-control programs to meet the CDC-recommended funding levels are necessary to attain the 2010 national objective.
  • Comprehensive programs that focus on reducing tobacco use among those in different socioeconomic strata, racial/ethnic populations, and educational levels could help reduce cigarette smoking and tobacco use in general and reduce the extensive morbidity and mortality and economic costs associated with tobacco use.
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