In 2010, an estimated 19.3% (45.3 million) of US adults were current cigarette smokers; of these, 78.2% (35.4 million) smoked every day, and 21.8% (9.9 million) smoked some days, according to data released in September 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of daily smokers, the largest percentage (close to 40%) reports smoking 10-19 cigarettes a day.
The second-highest percentage of daily smokers (a little less than 35%) reports smoking 20-29 cigarettes per day, meaning roughly three-quarters of daily smokers smoke at least 10 cigarettes per day. About 20% of daily smokers report smoking one to nine cigarettes per day, with a little more than 5% reporting 30 or more cigarettes consumed per day.
The rate of smoking one to nine cigarettes has risen the most dramatically since 2005 (from about 15%), while the rate of smoking 30 or more cigarettes per day has dropped the most notably (from more than 10%). The mean cigarette per day consumption among daily smokers was 16.7 in 2005 and 15.1 in 2010.
Men, Adults 25-64 Smoke More
Smoking rates are higher for adults between the ages of 25 and 64 than younger or older adults and higher for men than women in all age ranges. By age, the highest smoking rate (22%) is found among adults age 25-44, followed by adults age 45-64 (21.1%). Adults 18-24 have a rate not much lower (20.1%), but the rate for adults 65 and up is only 9.5%, or less than half any other age group.
The most dramatic gender-based difference by age group occurs among 18-24-year-olds, where men are about 31% more likely to smoke than women. The rates are virtually flat for men and women 65 and older. Overall, prevalence was higher among men (21.5%) than women (17.3%).
American Indians/Alaskan Natives Heaviest Smoking Ethnic Group
Among racial/ethnic populations, non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest prevalence of smoking (31.4%), followed by non-Hispanic multiple race individuals (25.9%), non-Hispanic whites (21.%) and non-Hispanic blacks (20.6%). Smoking rates then dipped sharply for Hispanics (12.5%) and non-Hispanic Asians (9.2%), whose smoking rate was less than half that of any other ethnic group.
Men had higher smoking rates than women among all ethnic groups where this data was available. The gender difference was most pronounced among non-Hispanic Asians, where the smoking rate of men (14.7%) was more than three times that of women (4.3%). Male smoking rate data was not available for non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives.
Smoking Varies by Education, Income, Region
Smoking prevalence generally decreased with increasing education (45.2% among GED holders and only 6.3% among graduate degree holders), and was higher among adults living below the poverty level (28.9%) than among those at or above the poverty level (18.3%).
By region, prevalence was highest in the Midwest (21.8%) and South (21.0%) and lowest in the West (15.9%). By state, smoking prevalence was lowest in Utah (9.1%) and California (12.1%) and highest in West Virginia (26.8%) and Kentucky (24.8%).
Harris: Smoking Slowly But Steadily Drops
Cigarette smoking has shown a slow but steady decline since the three-year average of 1983-85, when 29% of adults smoked cigarettes, and 2011, when 18% did so, according to May 2011 figures from Harris Interactive. Usage of tobacco products besides cigarettes, such as cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco, has consistently been low since 2006.
In 2011, 2% of adults smoked a pipe, 4% smoked cigars and 3% chewed tobacco. Adding these products to cigarettes, the study finds 22% of adults use some form of tobacco.
About the Data: The 2005-2010 National Health Interview Surveys and the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey were used to estimate national and state adult smoking prevalence, respectively. The 2010 NHIS included 27,157 respondents, of whom a total of 190 were excluded because of unknown smoking status.