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Tobacco Use: Monitoring Individual Tobacco Use

Fundamentally, tobacco use is a personal behavior -- individuals use tobacco and they choose to quit. Through surveys of US households, we are able to monitor a number of issues relating to individual tobacco use behavior, such as prevalence of use, how often and how much people use tobacco, age of initiation, and quitting history. Here's some of what we've learned.

Cigarette Smoking Prevalence & Policies in 50 States

A 2009 chartbook, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Bridging the Gap, an RWJF-funded, nationally recognized research program, presents state and national data on tobacco prevalence, policies implemented to diminish that prevalence, and programs and policies to help smokers quit. Key findings from the report, Cigarette Smoking Prevalence and Policies in 50 States: An Era of ChangeExternal Web Site Policy (available at Web Site Policy), using data covering a period of 16 years from NCI's Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS) include:

  • Substantial progress was made in reducing cigarette smoking in the United States from 1992/1993 to 2006/07, with the prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults declining from 24.5 percent to 18.5 percent.
  • A wide variation in smoking prevalence exists by state. For example, among 18- to 29-year-olds, prevalence was 2.5 times higher in Kentucky (36.2%) than in California (14.4%).
  • States making the most progress in reducing smoking appear to have proportionately fewer "hard-core" smokers. In 2006/07, smokers living in states where cigarette smoking was lowest were less likely to exhibit indicators of nicotine dependence than were smokers living in states where smoking was higher. Smokers living in low-prevalence states were more interested in quitting, more motivated to quit and more confident in their ability to quit than were smokers in high-prevalence states.
  • By 2006/07, in 34 states and Washington, DC, more than 50 percent of those who had ever smoked cigarettes had quit.

Additional Data

  • The prevalence of cigarette smoking, though improving, is still well above the Healthy People 2010 target of 12 percent of the adult population. According to the Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey in 2006-07, current smoking was least prevalent among women, persons in the West, those at least 65 years old, and Asian/Pacific Islander respondents.
  • In 2006-07, White respondents were the least likely to report smoking cessation activity, but the most likely to report successfully quitting for at least three months. Those with at least 16 years of education were most likely to report any smoking cessation activity or successfully quitting, while those with less than 12 years of education were least likely to report any smoking cessation activity or successfully quitting. See also the Cancer Trends Progress Report 2009/2010 for information about smoking cessation trends based on National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Cancer Control Supplement data.

Last Modified: 11 Apr 2014