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Our Great American Smokeout is this Thursday. While we have some good news about the adult smoking rate declining, it is overshadowed by a grim global outlook and the fact so many people are still dying from a behavior engineered by the tobacco industry to be highly addictive.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Nov. 12 that the adult smoking rate in the U.S. fell to a record low 16.8% in 2014, down from 17.8% in 2013. Since 1965, rates have declined by a remarkable 60% (when 42.4% smoked).

However, the CDC also reported large disparities in smoking, with higher rates among people who live below the poverty level; those with less education; American Indians/Alaska Natives; residents of the Midwest; and lesbians/gays/bisexuals. Adults who are uninsured or on Medicaid smoke at more than double the rates of those with private health insurance or Medicare.


Tobacco’s toll in the U.S.

  • Every year, tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans and nearly six million people worldwide. The vast majority started smoking as children.
  • In the U.S., tobacco use kills more than 480,000 people per year — more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.  About 50,000 of these deaths result from exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Smoking causes:
    9 out of 10 deaths from lung cancer
    3 out of 10 deaths from all cancers
    8 out of 10 cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, such as emphysema
    3 out of 10 deaths from heart disease
  • Most smokers begin as children, and 580 kids become regular smokers every day. One in three of them will die an early death as a result.  If current rates persist, more than 5.6 million U.S. kids alive today will die prematurely of tobacco-caused diseases.
  • In the U.S. alone, tobacco marketing totals $9.6 billion a year — $1 million every hour— and the industry spends millions more on lobbying and political contributions aimed at defeating tobacco control measures.

Tobacco’s toll around the world

  • Tobacco killed one hundred million people worldwide in the 20th century — and if current trends continue, it will kill one billion people in the 21st century.​​
  • Worldwide, tobacco use kills nearly six million people a year:
    1 person every 6 seconds
    More than 14,000 people every day
    1 in 10 of all adult deaths
  • Increasingly, the tobacco industry has targeted low- and middle-income countries with fewer resources to fight back. Unless urgent action is taken, tobacco will kill eight million people a year by 2030, more than 80% of them in low- and middle-income countries.

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