New survey data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that just 15.2 percent of American adults are smoking cigarettes regularly. The smoking rate has dropped two percent from what the same survey reported in 2014.
The data is preliminary, as it comes from only January through March, so the smoking rate may creep up towards the latter half of the year. Many people make it a New Year resolution to quit smoking, a valid explanation to the lower figures early this year.
Taking those contingencies into account, it still looks likely that the adult smoking rate for the full 2015 year will be lower than it was last year.
“This result is absolutely exciting and maybe even astonishing, if this decrease holds up when we see data for the full year,” Kenneth Warner, a professor of health policy and management at the University of Michigan, told The Huffington Post.
“With smoking responsible for 500,000 American deaths every year — one-fifth of all deaths — every decrease in smoking prevalence of this magnitude will ultimately translate into many thousands of premature deaths being avoided. This is a great development for public health.”
Officials and public health advocates will continue to push their policies against smoking, with a campaign that’s included ideas like raising taxes on cigarettes, so they are expensive for people to buy; encouraging the entertainment community to stop making smoking seem cool; and lobbying for and winning enactment of laws that restrict smoking in public places.
This year’s reduction continues a half-century trend, back to when the surgeon general published a landmark report identifying smoking as a health hazard.
Let’s hope the trend continues.