Fewer Than 20% of US Adults Smoke, a First

Rate drops, though 43M still light up; 443K die yearly as result
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2008 2:10 PM CST
Dave McBee, left, a U.S. Marine combat veteran of the Iraq War, lights a cigarette.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Smoking in the US is at its lowest since cigarettes became widespread after World War I, Reuters reports, with fewer than 20% of adults in the country lighting up—the lowest figure on record. Observers credit the gradual decline to awareness, bans on smoking in public places, and prohibitive taxation. Still, smoking is estimated to kill 443,000 people a year.

The recent availability of proven stop-smoking aids has also led to the decline. When a pioneering report about the ills of tobacco appeared in the mid-1960s, 42% of Americans smoked. The decline in recent years has been more gradual, but the 2007 statistics were a full point below 2006. “We've begun to come full circle,” an American Cancer Society official said.