African-American Use of Tobacco Products Remains High Even as Cigarette Smoking Drops to All Time

Samuel Johnson (20), a student at Harold Washington College in the Loop, smokes a menthol cigarette outside while between classes on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. (Phil Velasquez/ Chicago Tribune) 

By Frederick H. Lowe

( – An estimated 14 percent of American adults smoked cigarettes every day or some parts of the day during 2017, which is lowest rate ever recorded since 1965.the first year the Public Health Services established a clearing house for smoking and health. In 1964, the office of the U.S. Surgeon General issued its first ever report on smoking and health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday that the number of cigarette smokers was down from 15.5 percent in 2016, a 67 percent drop since 1965.

The drop, which has affected 34 million individuals, occurred mostly among young adults between 2016 and 2017, the CDC reported. About 10 percent of young adults 18 to 24 smoked cigarettes in 2017, down from 13 percent in 2016.

“This new all-time low in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults is a tremendous public health accomplishment—and it demonstrates the importance of continued proven strategies to reduce smoking,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield. “Despite this progress, work remains to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco use.”

The report notes that about 47 million U.S. adults used a variety of tobacco products in 2017, including cigarettes, cigars, hookah/water pipes, smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes. The most common tobacco products are cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

The City of Chicago, which has filed a lawsuit against online sellers of E-Cigarettes, said since 2011 Cook County and the State of Illinois have raised taxes on tobacco products, resulting in the reduction of smoking. A pack of cigarettes costs $11.50 in Illinois, the highest in the nation, compared to the average price of $5.51 per pack elsewhere, according to Fair Reporters, a website.

Black adults are one of many population groups who smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products at a much higher rate. More than 20.1 percent of blacks use some sort of tobacco product compared with 21.4 percent of whites. Smoking is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death among black men, according to the American Cancer Society.

The study was also produced by the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute.

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