Though many people still huddle outside of buildings and light up to get their nicotine fix, the smoking rate in the U.S. has apparently hit a new low.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asserted that just 15.2 percent of adults smoke cigarettes regularly. Last year, that percentage was nearly two points higher.
“This result is absolutely exciting and maybe even astonishing, if this decrease holds up when we see data for the full year,” Kenneth Warner, a professor of health policy and management at the University of Michigan, told The Huffington Post.
"With smoking responsible for 500,000 American deaths every year -- one-fifth of all deaths -- every decrease in smoking prevalence of this magnitude will ultimately translate into many thousands of premature deaths being avoided. This is a great development for public health.”
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Though public health officials and advocates have been waging a policy war on smoking by taking measures such as making cigarettes more expensive, educating younger people about the health hazards and restricting public smoking, the reduction could be due to some people switching to electronic cigarettes.
"It's gratifying to see continued progress," said public health expert Harold Pollack, a professor at the University of Chicago. "We still have a long way to go -- both domestically and across the globe -- in addressing our most widespread preventable cause of death, disability, and illness.”
According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States and accounts for more than 480,000 deaths every year.