Who’s Smoking What?

A survey by the CDC and FDA reports on the demographics of smokers and the rate at which they use tobacco.


About 1 in 5 U.S. adults used tobacco in 2015 every day or on some days, according to the CDC and the FDA. The most common tobacco product was cigarettes (15%). About 9.5 million adults used ≥ 2 tobacco products.

This is the first time the CDC and FDA have used the National Health Interview Survey to assess the range of tobacco products used. Survey questions asked about current cigarette smoking since 1965, but only recently began to track other tobacco products.

About 42 million adults, or > 87% of the nearly 49 million tobacco product users in the U.S., reported using cigarettes, cigars, or pipes; the remaining tobacco users reported using e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products (eg, chewing tobacco and snuff).

The survey also found that men were more likely than women to use tobacco products (25% vs 15%). Adults aged 25 to 44 years were more likely than those aged ≥ 65 years to use tobacco products (23% vs 11%). By race and ethnicity, tobacco product use ranged from 9% among Asians to 27% among American Indians/Alaska Natives.

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Using tobacco products was more common among adults in the Midwest; people with annual incomes less than $35,000; the uninsured or Medicaid insured; those with a disability; and those who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Adults with serious psychological distress were more than 2 times as likely to use tobacco as those who reported no serious psychological distress (47% vs 19%).

Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S. The CDC urges full implementation of comprehensive state tobacco control programs along with FDA regulation of tobacco products and targeted interventions to reach subpopulations with the greatest burden of use.

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