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Cigarette Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2003

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May 27, 2005 / Vol. 54 / No. 20

MMWR Highlights

  • In 2003, 45.4 million adults (21.6%) in the United States were current smokers—24.1% of men and 19.2% of women. For the first time since data collection began in 1965, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among women declined below 20%.
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, smoking prevalence was lowest among Asians (11.7%) and Hispanics (16.4%) and highest among American Indians/Alaska Natives (39.7%).
  • Among income groups, smoking prevalence was higher among adults living below the poverty level (30.5%) than those at or above the poverty level (21.7%).
  • Smoking prevalence was lowest among those aged 65 years and older (9.1%) and highest among those aged 25–44 (25.6%).
  • By education level, adults who had earned a General Educational Development (GED) diploma (44.4%) had the highest prevalence of smoking; those with master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees had the lowest prevalence (7.5%).
  • Among current adult smokers, 36.8 million (81.0%) smoked every day, and 8.6 million (19.0%) smoked some days.
  • An estimated 45.9 million adults were former smokers in 2003, representing 50.3% of those who had ever smoked. For the second consecutive year, more adults have quit than are still smoking.
  • An estimated 15.1 million (41.1%) adult smokers had stopped smoking for at least 1 day during the preceding 12 months because they were trying to quit.
  • Smoking prevalence rates among several subpopulations have dropped below the 2010 health objective target of 12%. These subpopulations included women with undergraduate (11.0%) or graduate degrees (6.7%), men with graduate degrees (8.1%), Hispanic women (10.3%), Asian women (6.5%), men aged >65 years (10.1 percent), and women aged >65 years (8.3%).
  • During 1983–2003, a sustained decline in cigarette smoking prevalence occurred in all age groups except persons aged 18–24 years. In this group, prevalence increased, but not significantly, during 1993–2002, before declining significantly from 28.5% in 2002 to 23.9% in 2003, the lowest reported prevalence for persons aged 18–24 years since 1991.