Here’s Some Good News About The Number Of Smokers Today

A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a serious decline in smoking rates in the last ten years.

The CDC says the proportion of U.S. adults who smoke cigarettes declined from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 15.1 percent in 2015.  And, that's great news considering smoking tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.

The research also found that population disparities still exist—and smoking rates are higher among men, people who are uninsured or living below the poverty line, those with disabilities, people with GEDs, those who are LGBTQ, and people living in the Midwest.

Interventions appear to be working across the board. The CDC attributes the decrease in smokers to several things including: tobacco price increases, comprehensive smoke-free laws, anti-tobacco mass media campaigns, and barrier-free access to tobacco cessation counseling and medications.

Dr. Stanton A. Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of the university's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education talked to The New York Times about why he believes rates keep dropping.

He suggests the drop in smokers is like a snowball effect:

People smoking less is a really important part of the story. The overall pattern we're seeing, both nationally and in places like California is as smoking goes down, the remaining smokers are becoming lighter smokers, intermittent smokers, or not even smoking every day. And as you smoke less and less, it becomes easier to quit.

Perhaps most notable, smoke-free laws have made it more and more difficult and almost taboo for smokers to easily grab a puff. Evidence suggests these smoking bans not only cut down on second-hand smoke, but more importantly have a positive effect on smoking cessation.

Ronald Bayer of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health suggested as much in a conversation with PBS.

"It is clear that the general process of denormalizing smoking has an effect," he said. "It has an effect on quit rates and it has an effect on start rates. So that as part of a broader campaign to denormalize — to take something that was normal, social behavior, and to turn it into something a little weird, a little off — does in fact have an impact."

Whatever your reason for quitting, if you are someone who's done so, congratulations are in order.