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Why More Americans Quitting Smoking

oct2018image004More Americans are continuing to extinguish their cigarettes for good. The overall cigarette smoking rate among U.S. adults has hit an all-time low, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with preliminary data from the National Health Interview Survey showing smoking rates declining from 15.5 percent in 2016 to 13.9 percent in 2017.

"Cigarette smoking among adults has been on a downward trajectory for decades," said Brian King, deputy director for research translation in the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "It's the lowest percentage we've seen since we started monitoring smoking rates in 1965."

However, despite the declines and preliminary 2017 data, there are about 34 million Americans that are still smoking. Staggeringly, almost half a million people die each year because of cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, the latest CDC data suggests.

Five decades ago, when the first US surgeon general’s report on smoking and health was released, about 42 percent of American adults smoked. That 1964 report found that smoking causes lung and laryngeal cancer and is a major cause of health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, ushering in policies that would change the tobacco landscape.

But personal health only had so much to do with the deep decrease. As became quickly the case, hitting smokers where it hurts the hardest – their wallets – has led to a major decline. Efforts also included anti-smoking campaigns and policies to unfold, plus treatments and services to help people tackle the highly addictive products. Previously, such tools and resources that didn't exist. Smoke-free laws, and access to cessation programs as powerful levers aided by health advocacy groups.

Money raised from taxes funded ads that showed the adverse health impacts of tobacco, often in great detail, as well as the rights of being able to smoke at work, bars or public places revoked in place of smoke-free environments have made it easier for people to not smoke.

Insurance-covered cessation programs also haven given smokers access to the resources and tools they needed to quit.

But education efforts, particularly aimed at children – spreading the word about tobacco's effects, and health warnings on products -- beginning in 1965 has continually reiterated the fact that smoking is deadly, dirty and those who do so essentially put themselves in the position of a modern-day pariah. Younger smokers are not taking it up as has been the case in generations past.

However, as traditional channels of smoking may changing, the market is diversifying thanks to the emergence of products such as e-cigarettes, the health effects of which researchers are still working to understand as their popularity among young people grows. According to the CDC, 11.7 percent of high schoolers in 2016 said they had used an e-cigarette, up from 1.5 percent in 2011. Newer approaches will be needed to prevent tobacco use and nicotine addiction in a new generation, experts say.

"There's an emerging body of novel interventions and strategies, such as increasing the age of sale of tobacco to 21, including e-cigarettes, and prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco, which are percolating at the local level," King said. But he is optimistic that smoking rates will continue their downward trend.

Click here to read the full article on Medicalxpress.