Smoking Rate Drops by Biggest Margin in 20 Years
The rate of smoking in the U.S. has dropped by the largest margin in more than 20 years, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).
Last year’s report showed that 17% of adults confessed to smoking in 2014. This year’s report on 2015 has the number at 15%. According to the Associated Press (AP), the 2-point percentage drop represents the highest drop in many years, with only the 1993 1.5 percentage point drop being the most recent highest percentage drop.
Reasons for the Declining Smoking Rates
This year’s results have had many experts seeking to explain the reasons for the declining smoking rates. Health warnings were proving unfruitful and people were more than willing to either take up smoking or continue the habit. Recent interventions have however shown long-term impacts in reducing the vice.
1. Great Public Awareness
The current generation seems very willing to accept new information on things they should avoid. While statistics on opioid abuse might indicate the youth are still at risk for substance abuse, the recent statistics on smoking show that smoking is not as in vogue as it once used to be.
Since people are very concerned about their health and the dangers posed by smoking cigarettes, there has been a shift to smoking marijuana because it is considered safer. According to the CDC, smoking causes nicotine dependence, respiratory illnesses, infertility risks, heart diseases and several types of cancer. With marijuana, however, it is all about getting high. Nevertheless, authorities are concerned that the belief that marijuana is safer might lead to greater dangers such as driving while impaired, which might cause fatal road accidents.
2. Rise of E-cigarettes
Electronic cigarettes have grown stronger in the market and are available in many stores. The CDC reports that middle and high school students were exposed to about 70% of e-cigarette ads. The internet and television also contributed about 42% and 38% respectively. This exposure in turn led to the April 2016 report that shows 16% of high school students used e-cigarettes while 9.3% used the normal cigarettes.
While e-cigarettes have also been marketed to cigarette smokers as a way to help them quit smoking, experts fear that vaporizing liquid nicotine might still lead to a nicotine addiction.
Smoking cessation specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, Dr. Jonathan Whiteson, expressed his concerns to AP that teenagers who are currently using e-cigarettes might end up becoming smokers as adults.
3. Smoking Bans and Anti-Smoking Campaigns
The enactment of smoking bans in many public places is pushing smokers into quitting their vice in order to fit in. Tying these bans together with anti-smoking campaigns has raised awareness that smoking is dangerous not only to the smoker but also to those who inhale second-hand smoke.
4. Raising Taxes
Higher tobacco taxes make cigarette smoking uneconomical due to the high prices. These high prices also limit teenagers’ access to cigarettes thereby preventing future addiction.
Even as smoking rates go down, it is difficult to tell the long-term impact of anti-smoking strategies. As the CDC’s Brian King told AP, “We’d expect continued declines in smoking, as we’ve seen in the past 50 years. But it’s hard to say what the future holds.”