CHICAGO — Fewer U.S. adults are smoking and those who do light up are smoking fewer cigarettes each day, but the trend is weaker than the government had hoped.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Tuesday, 19.3 percent of adults said they smoked last year, down from about 21 percent in 2005. The rate for smoking 30 or more cigarettes daily dropped to about 8 percent from almost 13 percent during the same period.
The report only compared last year with 2005 and says the decline means 3 million fewer adults were smoking. The CDC earlier reported that the 2009 rate was 20.6 percent and rates fluctuated during the five-year period.
The five-year decline was much slower than a drop seen over the previous 40 years, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Atlanta-based agency. He said any decline is a good step but also said tobacco use remains a significant health burden.
“About half of all smokers will be killed by tobacco if they don’t quit,” Frieden said during a news briefing.
“You don’t have to be a heavy smoker or a long-time smoker to get a smoking-related disease or have a heart attack or asthma attack,” Frieden said. “The sooner you quit smoking, the sooner your body can heal.”