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Cigarette Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2004

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November 11, 2005 / Vol. 54 / No. 44

MMWR Highlights

  • In 2004, 44.5 million adults (20.9%) in the United States were current smokers—23.4% of men and 18.5% of women.
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, smoking prevalence was highest among American Indians/Alaska Natives (33.4%) and lowest among Hispanics (15%) and Asians (11.3%).
  • Among income groups, smoking prevalence was higher among adults living below the poverty level (29.1%) than those at or above the poverty level (20.6%).
  • Smoking prevalence was highest among those aged 18–24 (23.6 percent) and 25–44 (23.8%) and lowest among those aged 65 and older (8.8%).
  • Among current adult smokers, 36.1 million (81.3%) smoked every day, and 8.3 million (18.7%) smoked some days.
  • An estimated 45.6 million adults were former smokers in 2004, representing 50.6% of those who had ever smoked.
  • An estimated 14.6 million (40.5%) adult smokers had stopped smoking for at least 1 day during the preceding 12 months because they were trying to quit.
  • While from 1993 to 2004, the proportion of heavy smokers and the overall number of cigarettes smoked among daily smokers declined, the percent of daily smokers who smoked 1–4 cigarettes and 5–14 cigarettes per day increased.
  • By education level, adults who had earned a General Educational Development (GED) diploma (39.6%) and those with a grade 9–11 education (34%) had the highest prevalence of smoking; those with master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees had the lowest prevalence (8%).
  • The steady decline in smoking prevalence has been observed nationally, but in some segments of the population smoking prevalence remains high highlighting the need for expanded interventions that can better reach persons of low socio–economic status and populations living in poverty.
  • Comprehensive tobacco control programs at local, state, and national levels need to ensure that their prevention and cessation efforts reach persons with inadequate resources and limited access to health care.