More than half of the nearly 44 million Americans who smoke have tried to quit, health officials say. Fifty-two percent of smokers polled have tried to quit.
Though the number of smokers had declined from 20.9 percent to 19.3 percent of Americans between 2005 and 2011, the number of smokers has appeared to stall recently. Last year, the number of smokers held relatively steady at 19 percent. There are currently 43.8 million smokers in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The largest decline of smokers is among those between the ages of 18 and 24, which dropped from 24 percent to 19 percent. This news is welcome to health officials, as the majority of smokers start before the age of 18, and few people start smoking after the age of 25.
Nevertheless, the progress has slowed, largely as a result of cash-strapped states cutting back on anti-tobacco measures, like smoke-free laws and increasing tobacco sales taxes.
The report also gave for the first time the number of Americans with disabilities who smoke. That number is 25 percent, significantly higher than the number of Americans without disabilities - 17 percent - who smoke.
The number of smokers who have 30 or more cigarettes a day has gone down, decreasing from 13 percent in 2005 to 9 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, the number of smokers who have between one and nine cigarettes a day has increased from 16 percent to 22 percent. This change is largely due to economic uncertainty, the CDC says. Health officials say that smoking fewer cigarettes does not cut health risks though, and that it is not a substitute for quitting altogether.
This report is issued as part of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It was issued a week before November 15's American Cancer Society's Great Smokeout. The day is intended to be one where smokers are encouraged to quit or plan to quit.
The United States Department of Public Health had set a goal that only 12 percent of Americans would smoke by the year 2020. The current statistics show that we are a considerable distance away from that goal.
Studies say that smoking cuts an average of 10 years from a person's life.