Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2005–2015

November 11, 2016 / Vol. 65 / No. 44

MMWR Introduction

CDC assessed the most recent national estimates of smoking prevalence among adults aged ≥18 years using data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey. The proportion of US adults who smoke cigarettes declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 15.1% in 2014, and the proportion of daily smokers declined from 16.9% to 11.4%. In 2015, prevalence of cigarette smoking was higher among adults who were male; aged 25-44 years; were American Indian/Alaska Native; had a general education development certificate (GED); lived below the federal poverty level; lived in the Midwest; were insured through Medicaid or were uninsured; had a disability or limitation; were lesbian, gay, or bisexual; or who had serious psychological distress.

Sustained comprehensive state tobacco control programs funded at CDC-recommended levels could accelerate progress in reducing adult smoking prevalence and smoking-related disease, death, and economic costs. However, during 2016, despite combined revenue of $25.8 billion from settlement payments and tobacco taxes for all states, state spending on tobacco control programs is projected to be $468 million (1.8% of revenues) , representing <15% of the CDC-recommended level of funding for all states combined. Implementation of comprehensive tobacco control interventions can result in substantial reductions in tobacco-related disease and death and billions of dollars in savings from averted medical costs. In particular, the health care system offers important opportunities to reduce smoking, especially for vulnerable populations, by implementing system changes to make tobacco dependence treatment a standard of care and by working with health insurers to cover evidence-based cessation treatments with minimal barriers and to promote their use.

MMWR Highlights

Percentage of people aged >18 years who were current cigarette smokers, by age

  • The percentage of 18- to 24-year olds who were current cigarette smokers decreased from 24.4% in 2005 to 13.0% in 2015.
  • The percentage of 25- to 44-year olds who were current cigarette smokers decreased from 24.1% in 2005 to 17.7% in 2015.
  • The percentage of 45- to 64-year olds who were current cigarette smokers decreased from 21.9% in 2005 to 17.0% in 2015.
  • The percentage of those aged >65 who were current cigarette smokers did not change and was 8.6% in 2005 and 8.4% in 2015.

Percentage of people aged >18 years who were current cigarette smokers, by race/ethnicity

  • The percentage of white adults who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 21.9% in 2005 to 16.6% in 2015.
  • The percentage of black adults who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 21.5% in 2005 to 16.7% in 2015.
  • The percentage of Hispanic adults who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 16.2% in 2005 to 10.1% in 2015.
  • The percentage of American Indian/Alaskan Native adults who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 32.0% in 2005 to 21.9% in 2015.
  • The percentage of Asian adults who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 13.3% in 2005 to 7.0% in 2015.

Percentage of people aged >18 years who were current cigarette smokers, by education level

  • The percentage adults with 0 to 12 years of education, and no diploma, who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 25.5% in 2012 to 24.2% in 2015.
  • The percentage adults with an 8th grade or less education level who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 17.1% in 2005 to 14.4% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults with a 9th through 11th grade education level who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 32.6% in 2005 to 31.6% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults with a 12th grade education level, and no diploma, who are current cigarette smokers was 26.0% in 2005 and 26.3% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults with a GED who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 43.2% in 2005 to 34.1% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults who are high school graduates and who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 24.6% in 2005 to 19.8% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults who had some college education, but no diploma, who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 23.5% in 2005 to 18.5% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults with an associate degree who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 20.9% in 2005 to 16.6% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults with an undergraduate degree who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 10.7% in 2005 to 7.4% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults with a graduate degree who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 7.1% in 2005 to 3.6% in 2015.

Percentage of people aged >18 years who were current cigarette smokers, by poverty status

  • The percentage of adults at or above the poverty level who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 20.6% in 2005 to 13.9% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults below the poverty level who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 29.9% in 2005 to 26.1% in 2015.

Percentage of people aged >18 years who were current cigarette smokers, by US Census Region

  • The percentage of adults living in the Northeast who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 19.2% in 2005 to 13.5% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults living in the Midwest who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 24.2% in 2005 to 18.7% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults living in the South who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 21.8% in 2005 to 15.3% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults living in the West who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 17.0% in 2005 to 12.4% in 2015.

Percentage of people aged >18 years who were current cigarette smokers, by health insurance coverage

  • The percentage of adults covered by Medicaid who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 31.3% in 2005 to 27.8% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults covered by Medicare only who are current cigarette smokers was 8.7% in 2005 and 8.9% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults covered by private insurance who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 17.3% in 2005 to 11.1% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults covered by other public insurance who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 25.1% in 2005 to 19.0% in 2015.
  • The percentage of uninsured adults who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 33.3% in 2005 to 27.4% in 2015.

Percentage of people aged >18 years who were current cigarette smokers, by disability or limitation

  • The percentage of adults with a disability or limitation who are current cigarette smokers was 21.5% in 2015 (this question was not asked in the 2005 survey).
  • The percentage of adults with no disability or limitation who are current cigarette smokers was 13.8% in 2014 (this question was not asked in the 2005 survey).

Percentage of people aged >18 years who were current cigarette smokers, by sexual orientation

  • The percentage of straight adults who are current cigarette smokers was 14.9% in 2015 (this question was not asked in the 2005 survey).
  • The percentage of gay/lesbian/bisexual adults who are current cigarette smokers was 20.6% in 2015 (this question was not asked in the 2005 survey).

Percentage of people aged >18 years who were current cigarette smokers, by serious psychological distress

  • The percentage of adults with serious psychological distress who are current cigarette smokers was 41.9 in 2005 and 40.6% in 2015.
  • The percentage of adults with no serious psychological stress who are current cigarette smokers decreased from 20.3% in 2005 to 14.0% in 2015.