For years the U.S. smoking rate has been stuck at 20 to 21 percent, so were thrilled with the latest news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The smoking rate has dipped to 18 percent, according to a survey of 35,000 adults.[i]
Back in the mid-1980s, when Alere Wellbeings Quit for Life® program was developed, some 30 percent of U.S. adults smoked.
Health officials are still analyzing the survey results and dont yet know why the rate has dropped. Among the possible reasons: the CDCs graphic advertising campaign[ii] launched last year.
The videos feature real stories of former smokers suffering the effects of their addiction, such as amputations, disfiguring throat-cancer surgeries, and near-fatal asthma attacks. Since the campaign was launched, calls to quit lines including those operated by Alere Wellbeing have spiked by more 200,000.
Other possible reasons for the drop include rising state and federal tobacco taxes, increased spending on prevention and cessation programs, and more laws banning smoking in public. In addition, more workplaces are banning smoking on their premises and limiting hiring to nonsmokers.
Despite the good news, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. Smoking causes 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and 90 percent of deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease. Smoking also causes coronary heart disease, stroke, and at least eleven types of cancer, as well as stillbirth, premature delivery, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome.
Every day at Alere we help companies make the delicate transition to a smoke-free culture, implementing practices and policies that will save money and save lives.
We will continue our efforts until the CDC reports that the U.S. smoking rate is zero.