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Smoking in the United States Causes 443,000 Deaths Annually and Costs $193 Billion As Nation Observes Great American Smokeout

Fewer U.S. adults smoke, but cigarette smoking continues to impose substantial health and financial costs on society, according to new data from CDC.

An estimated 19.8 percent of U.S. adults (43.4 million people), were current smokers in 2007, down from 20.8 percent in 2006, according to a study in CDC′s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released in advance of the Great American Smokeout. However, based on the current rate of decline, it is unlikely that the national health objective of reducing the prevalence of adult cigarette smoking to 12 percent or lower will be met by 2010.

Smoking causes at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths, including more than 80 percent of lung cancer deaths, and 80 percent of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking is responsible for early cardiovascular disease and death. As a result, about half of all long-term smokers, particularly those who began smoking as teens, die prematurely, many in middle age.

“The good news, we continue to see fewer people smoking,” said Janet Collins, Ph.D., director of CDC′s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “The bad news is we need more people to quit. Quitting smoking is the most important step smokers can take to improve their health and protect the health of nonsmoking family members. Smokers should be aware that there are treatments and services available to help them quit now more than ever before. Smokers can more than double their likelihood of successfully quitting by using medications and telephone counseling.”

Another MMWR study released this week by CDC assessed the U.S. health consequences and productivity losses attributable to smoking.

National estimates of annual smoking deaths indicate that, during 2000–2004, cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke resulted in approximately 443,000 annual premature deaths, consistent with previous estimates.

In addition, during 2001–2004, average annual smoking-attributable health care expenditures were approximately $96 billion, compared to $75 billion in 1998. Accounting for direct health care expenditures and productivity losses ($97 billion), the total economic burden of smoking is approximately $193 billion per year.

November 20, 2008, marks the American Cancer Society′s 32nd Great American Smokeout. The event encourages smokers to quit for at least one day in the hope that this might help them to stop using tobacco permanently. The Smokeout also draws attention to the many proven ways to encourage people to stop smoking. These include making it more affordable for people to use medical treatments, establishing smoke-free environments in homes, workplaces and restaurants, increasing the price of cigarettes, and mass media campaigns to inform and help motivate tobacco users to quit.

“If we want to see far more people quit smoking, we need expanded access to stop smoking programs, continued progress in eliminating secondhand smoke exposure and ongoing investment in programs that work,” said Matthew McKenna, M.D., M.P.H., director, CDC′s Office on Smoking and Health. “If, starting in 2009, all states were to fully implement tobacco control programs at CDC-recommended levels of investment, an estimated five million fewer people in this country would smoke within five years, and hundreds of thousands of premature tobacco-related deaths would be prevented each year.”

Tobacco users who want help in quitting can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) (TTY 1-800-332-8615) for free telephone-based counseling anywhere in the United States or visit for quitting assistance. Information about the Great American Smokeout is available at


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