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Smoking and Tobacco

Is Cigarette Smoking Still a Problem in the US?

face of person lighting a cigaretteYes! Right now, over 45 million American adults, or about 19 percent, smoke cigarettes (CDC, 2011). Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US.  It can cause health problems like cancer, heart disease and lung disease.

Many efforts have been made to educate Americans about the risks of smoking. Today, there are fewer smokers in our country than 30 years ago --or even 5 years ago (DHHS, 2012). However, the declining rates of tobacco use among teens and young adults have now stalled. More work needs to be done!


Who is at Risk for Smoking?

You may be more likely to smoke if you belong to certain groups.


What are the Smoking Trends?

Smoking still causes many health problems for both smokers and non-smokers.


How Much Does Smoking Cost?

The cost of smoking is greater than just the price of the pack. Cigarette smoking costs more than 193 billion dollars and secondhand smoke costs 10 billion dollars each year. These costs include:


Are People Quitting?

Smoking is still a problem because there are smokers who want to quit—and they can’t. It takes more than just willpower to quit. Almost 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit smoking. In 2010, about half of all smokers tried to quit with very few being successful.

It may be even harder to quit if you prefer menthol cigarettes. It is possible that menthol cigarettes are more addictive than non-menthol cigarettes. Studies have found a significant risk of relapse among menthol smokers. Drugs designed to help smokers quit may be less effective for those who prefer menthol cigarettes. 


Does Secondhand Smoke Harm Kids?

Yes. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke, especially for children. Secondhand smoke is the smoke given off by a cigarette and a smoker. It can slow the growth of a child’s lungs and cause other health problems. Secondhand smoke is extra dangerous for children because when they breathe it in, their growing bodies are flooded with poisons. Smoke exposure as a child can cause health problems in adulthood. Secondhand smoke also makes children sick with:


Smoking—It’s Still a Problem.

Smoking causes one out of every five deaths, but it doesn’t have to! Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death—as long as people are still smoking, smoking is still a problem.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥ 18 Years—United States, 2005–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2011;60(33):1207–12 [accessed 2012 Jan 24].

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2012




Hope Through Research - You Can Be Part of the Answer!

Many research studies are underway to help us learn about smoking cessation. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:

For more information:

Go to the Smoking and Tobacco health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Jun 12, 2012

Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor Emeritus
College of Public Health
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University