Fewer adults smoke in the U.S. and the number is dropping

A new study has found that the percentage of U.S. adults who smoke cigarettes is continuing to decline.

Using data from the 2003 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the study found that approximately 21.6 percent of U.S. adults, over 45 million people, are current smokers. That number is down from 22.5 percent in 2002 and 22.8 percent in 2001. The study also found that the 46 million adults who have quit smoking now outnumber the 45 million people who continue to smoke, the second year this has happened.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Julie Gerberding says the continuing decline in cigarette smoking by Americans is good news and those who have successfully stopped smoking should be congratulated. She says it should encourage more people to take this very important step to improve their overall health and reduce their risk of disease.

The study points out that more efforts and programs are needed to reduce the continuing disparities in cigarette smoking by age, race, and educational levels.

World No Tobacco Day takes place on May 31 and is an event designed to help raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco.

This year it will focus is on the role of health care professionals in preventing tobacco use.

According to the CDC while the majority (72 percent to 99 percent) of dental, medical, nursing and pharmacy students from 10 countries believe they should receive training in counseling patients to quit smoking, only a small percentage (5 percent - 37 percent) say they are receiving formal training to do that.

This report is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA).

It is the first of its kind to collect data on tobacco use by health profession students from Albania, Argentina, Bangladesh, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, India, Philippines, Republic of Serbia and Uganda, as well as their attitudes toward tobacco use and about receiving training in smoking cessation counseling.

The report also found that current smoking rates among third-year health profession students is above 20 percent in seven of the 10 countries studied.

Wick Warren, Ph.D., researcher in CDC’s Global Tobacco Control Program, says all health care professionals, from doctors and nurses to pharmacists and dentists, can play a role in preventing and reducing tobacco use.

The articles are published in this week’s issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr

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