November 15 marks the 31st Great American Smokeout. The Smokeout encourages smokers to quit for at least a day so that they might quit smoking permanently. Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, causing the death of nearly 500,000 deaths each year. This report discusses the importance of aids that will help smokers quit, thus decreasing illness and death caused by smoking. Created: 11/9/2007 by MMWR.
Date Released: 11/8/2007. Series Name: A Cup of Health with CDC.
A CUP OF HEALTH WITH CDC
Who’s Still Smoking in the U.S.?
Cigarette Smoking Among Adults — United States, 2006
November 8, 2007
[Announcer] This podcast is presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC – safer,
[Matthew Reynolds] Welcome to A Cup of Health with CDC, a weekly broadcast of the
MMWR, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. I’m your host, Matthew Reynolds.
Cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the
United States. Even though the percentage of adults who smoke has gone down in the
past decade, a recent CDC study confirmed that there are still about 1 in 5 adults who
continue to smoke. Although there are a growing number of options to help someone
quit, success in quitting still eludes some smokers.
Dr. Corinne Husten, a researcher with CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, is here to
discuss the latest findings on smoking among adults in the United States. Welcome to
the show, Dr. Husten.
[Dr. Husten] Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
[Matthew Reynolds] Dr. Husten, what did your study find in terms of the number of
people who say they smoke?
[Dr. Husten] We have 45 million Americans who currently smoke.
[Matthew Reynolds] How does that figure of 45 million that you just mentioned
compare to the percentage that you’ve seen over, say, the past decade?
[Dr. Husten] We were seeing a decline in smoking since about 1995 until about two
years ago, but it looks like it’s been flatting out some the past year or so. We do have
some concerns that that decline may be coming to an end.
[Matthew Reynolds] Well, given the number of health messages that are out there
and the repeated health messages about how smoking is so bad for your health, how
do you explain that.
[Dr. Husten] Well, we have to remember that the tobacco industry is still spending 13
billion dollars a year marketing their products. We also know that our state tobacco
control program funding has been cut over the past several years, so that means they
have not been able to run the media campaigns and other educational messages that
can help kids not start or encourage adults to quit. We also know that many smokers
are addicted, they want to quit, they try to quit but they don’t necessarily know where to
get help or the help may not be readily available to them. And finally, most smokers do
want to quit and they do make efforts, but unless the environment around them supports
that effort, it’s very very difficult for them to successfully quit, so we need to continue
with the clean indoor air laws and the other environmental support that makes it easier
for them to not smoke than to smoke.
[Matthew Reynolds] Even though smoking is less common than it once was, what
have you learned about the prevalence of smoking among categories of people who still
[Dr. Husten] Well, we know that smoking rates are particularly high among American
Indians and Alaskan natives and followed by African Americans and whites, among
people with lower educational attainment, and with people living below the poverty level.
[Matthew Reynolds] What do we know about the health effects caused by smoking
and the chronic diseases that are connected with smoking?
[Dr. Husten] Well, smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. So, for example, it
causes lung and nine other cancers, heart disease, stroke and other arterial diseases,
and respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We know that
half of all smokers who continue to smoke long term will die from a smoking related
[Matthew Reynolds] If someone has been smoking for a long time or is a heavy
smoker – or both – does it really matter if they quit? You just mentioned a litany of
diseases that they could acquire from smoking. They may be asking themselves should
I bother stopping?
[Dr. Husten] Well, the good news is, it’s never too late to quit smoking. But it’s also true
that every smoker needs to quit as early in life as possible to minimize their chances of
getting a smoking-related disease or to minimize the severity of the disease if they
already have it.
[Matthew Reynolds] Well, tied to that question and that answer you just gave, what if
someone who is a long time smoker already has heart disease or has breathing
problems or perhaps has already developed cancer or early stage cancer from this? Is
there any reason they should quit or is it just too late for them?
[Dr. Husten] Oh it’s never too late. Even with people who have smoking-related
diseases, quitting smoking confers major benefits in terms of decreasing the chances of
their cancer reoccurring, decreasing the chances they’ll have a second heart attack, or
minimizing the shortness of breath and disability that they’ll have with chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease.
[Matthew Reynolds] I know people who smoke and who were able to quit “cold turkey”
without too much trouble and other people who have used the gum or the patch to make
it easer, but they still couldn’t quit. If someone tries to quit but is unsuccessful, is there a
point to trying again? What would you tell them?
[Dr. Husten] They absolutely should keep trying to quit. Most people do try multiple
times before they’re successful. The other thing is, if people that have tried and have
been unsuccessful, we say definitely get help. Call 1-800-QUITNOW, talk to your
doctor. The good news is there are more proven treatments now then ever before to
help people quit. So, even if they’ve tried the patch or the gum, there are many other
options available now and they need to try something else until they’re successful.
[Matthew Reynolds] You mentioned a 1-800 number that people can call for help. Is
there a website that people can visit as well?
[Dr. Husten] Yes. People can go to www.smokefree.gov or to our website at
[Matthew Reynolds] Dr. Husten, thank you so much for taking the time to share this
information with our listeners today.
[Dr. Husten] Thank you.
[Matthew Reynolds] That’s it for this week’s show. Don’t forget to join us next week.
Until then, be well. This is Matthew Reynolds for A Cup of Health with CDC.
To access the most accurate and relevant health information that affects you, your family and your
community, please visit www.cdc.gov.