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Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥ 18 Years—United States, 2009

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September 10, 2010 / Vol. 59 / No. 35

MMWR Introduction

Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality in the United States. Monitoring tobacco use is essential in the effort to end the tobacco epidemic. The present Vital Signs report used the 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to determine the most recent national smoking estimates; the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) was used to determine state-level estimates.

In 2009, 20.6% of U.S. adults were current cigarette smokers; more men (23.5%) than women (17.9%) smoked. The highest prevalence of smoking was observed among multirace adults (29.5%); adults with low educational attainment (28.5% among persons with less than a high school diploma, compared with 5.6% among those with a graduate degree); and for persons below the poverty level (31.1%). During 2005–2009, the proportion of U.S. adults who were current cigarette smokers didn't change (20.9% in 2005 to 20.6% in 2009). Regional differences were observed, with the West having the lowest prevalence (16.4%).

To prevent future death and disease from cigarette smoking, reductions in cigarette smoking among adults must continue. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to expand access to evidence-based smoking-cessation services and treatments. Expanded access to cessation services and treatments might result in reductions in current smoking and its adverse effects among U.S. adults. Population-based prevention strategies in concert with clinical cessation interventions can assist adults in quitting and prevent the uptake of tobacco use, further reducing the burden of tobacco use in the United States.