One-Fifth of U.S. Adults Use Tobacco Products: CDC Report

According to a recent study published by federal health officials, nearly one-in-five Americans use tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Although substantial efforts have been made in recent decades to reduce risks associated with smoking in the United States, a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates more than 50 million adults continue to use some type of tobacco product.

The CDC study analyzed data from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey, focusing on national estimates of tobacco use among adults ages 18 and older. According to researchers, in 2019, 21% of U.S. adults reported currently using any tobacco product, this includes more than 50 million adults.

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Cigarettes were the most used product among adults, but many adults also used e-cigarette, which have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional cigarettes, even though they may carry serious health risks as well.

The highest prevalence of e-cigarette use was among young adults ages 18 to 24, with more than half of participants reporting that they never used tobacco cigarettes prior to vaping for the first time with e-cigarettes. This is consistent with the recent teen vaping epidemic in the United States, which was driven by marketing efforts by JUUL and other companies that drove a new generation of prior non-smokers to develop nicotine addictions.

Conversely, more older adults ages 45 years and older used traditional tobacco cigarettes.

The percentage of e-cigarette users who never used tobacco cigarettes decreased as user age increased. Roughly 56% of young adults said they never smoked cigarettes, but that number decreased to only 20% as users aged.

Nearly 20% of participants said they used two or more types of tobacco products.

Lower educational level was associated with a higher risk of smoking. Similarly, divorced or separated couples and single people were more likely to smoke than those who were married or living with a partner. Tobacco use was also associated with lower income households and participants who were on public insurance or Medicaid.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. The findings of the study highlight the need for smoking and e-cigarette cessation programs and prevention programs.

“The implementation of comprehensive, evidence-based, population-level interventions, combined with targeted strategies, in coordination with regulation of tobacco products, can reduce tobacco-related disease and death in the United States,” CDC researchers wrote. “As part of a comprehensive approach, targeted interventions are also warranted to reach subpopulations with the greatest use, which might vary by tobacco product type.”


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