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October 20, 2017

Percentage of U.S. Cigarette Smokers Down 15%


New data coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s (CDC) 2015 National Health Interview Survey, an annual survey that tracks a variety of public health issues, reports smoking rates have fallen dramatically since 1965, when 42 percent of adults smoked. Likewise, a new government survey reveals that the U.S. smoking rate continues to decline as well, with just over 15 percent of adults reporting they are current smokers.

Important findings of the research also revealed almost half the population (44.8 percent) do not realize electronic cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking. The study, however, found that contrary to public perceptions, e-cigarettes did not endanger health in the same way as traditional tobacco cigarettes.

One year ago CVS decided to stop selling tobacco products and they can see the overall decrease in cigarette purchases by 95 million packs in states where it has stores. CVS Health Research Institute conducted their own study that found an extra 1 percent decrease over the last year in cigarette pack sales in states where CVS pharmacy had a 15 percent or greater share of the retail pharmacy market, compared to states with no CVS pharmacy stores. Over the same eight-month period, the study found that the average smoker in these states purchased five fewer cigarette packs, in total, approximately 95 million fewer packs. CVS Health Chief Medical Office Troyen Brennan stated in a news release:

We know that more than two-thirds of smokers want to quit — and that half of smokers try to quit each year. We also know that cigarette purchases are often spontaneous. And so we reasoned that removing a convenient location to buy cigarettes could decrease overall tobacco use.

According to CVS, it worked. The data has prompted health groups like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Heart Association to call on other retailers to follow CVS and ban tobacco.

Health experts state that although Global Positioning System and stop smoking services are not able to prescribe or recommend e-cigarettes as none of the products on the market are licensed for medicinal purposes, they are hopeful that the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will do so soon.

Health groups used the new data to call on the Food and Drug Administration to finalize its tobacco-deeming regulation and for the first time regulate electronic cigarettes and cigars. E-cigarettes do contain nicotine, but the chemicals found in tar of the tobacco smoke is the cause of death for most smokers. Thomas Carr, director of national policy for the American Lung Association stated:

These [new] numbers show that America’s current anti-smoking strategy works, and that we need to do ‘more of the same’.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s push to begin regulating other smoking products, such as cigars, hookahs and e-cigarettes, could also help further reduce the smoking rate, Carr added. Getting smokers to use safer forms of nicotine such as these can be highly effective in helping people to quit and something which we fully support. However, e-cigarettes have been controversial as a tool to quit and health experts said it may still be harmful despite the scientific evidence of the benefits it could provide.


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