Tag Archives: CDC

Smoking rate now down to 15 percent; biggest single-year drop ever recorded

A story from National Public Radio that the smoking rate in the U.S. is now down to 15 percent, the lowest ever recorded.

This also gives me the opportunity to fire up my Excel and make a new smoking rate graph! This is especially cool because it is actually the 50th anniversary of the CDC keeping track of smoking rates. In those 50 years, the smoking rate has dropped by nearly two-thirds from 42.4 percent to 15.1 percent.

u-s-smoking-rate

The last time I wrote about this, almost exactly a year ago, that figure was at 16.8 percent. These numbers released this month by the Centers for Disease Research actually refer to the 2015 smoking rate; it takes several months to put out a report, so that figure could be even lower now.

This is also the biggest single-year drop in the smoking rate ever recorded by the CDC. The next closest was 2009 to 2010, when the smoking rate dropped from 20.6 percent to 19.3 percent.

The news gets better. The smoking rate for people aged 19-24 is just 13 percent. There’s virtually no future smokers after someone turns 24, so that 13 percent figure will just drop as those smokers grow older and wiser.

Another bit of good news — California just passed a $2 a pack cigarette tax increase, which could drop the smoking rate in California down by as much as 20 percent (studies have shown a $1 a pack increase in cigarette taxes drops the smoking rate by roughly 10 percent).

If the California smoking rate drops by 20 percent, that’s 500,000 to 600,000 smokers giving up the habit, and that will have a major effect on the national smoking rate. That all by itself is more than 1 percent of the smokers nationwide.

There’s myriad reasons for the drop in the smoking rate — higher cigarette taxes, indoor smoking bans, more awareness of the health risks, social disapproval of smoking and, to be honest, the rise of e-cigarettes.

From the graph up above, you can see there is actually a pretty frustrating era from 1990 to 2009 in which the drop in the smoking rate was excruciatingly slow — in fact, incredibly, one year (2008) it actually went UP. That’s the effect of Joe Camel and a big increase in tobacco advertising in the 1990s and an increase in smoking in PG-13 and PG movies and cuts to tobacco education in the 2000s, in my opinion.

In those 19 years, the smoking rate only dropped from 25.5 percent to 20.6 percent, an average of 0.26 percent a year. Since 2009, the smoking rate has dropped from 20.6 percent to 15.1 percent, a drop of 0.92 percent a year over the past six years. The rate has actually dropped more during the past six years than it did in the 19 years prior to that. I do think e-cigs have something substantial to do with that, as well as Hollywood stubbing out smoking in PG movies.

If FDA regulations of e-cigarettes go through, and I’m sure it will be tied up in court for a while, it will be interesting to see if there is any effect on the smoking rate, because these regulations are expected to all by wipe out all the small e-cigarette companies, which make up roughly 40 percent to 50 percent of the market. Big Tobacco itself owns the three best-selling e-cig brands — Vuse, Blu and MarkTen.

 

 

 

Teen vaping rate continues to climb

vaping-girl

Well, the Pollyanna side of me wants to say, “good news, bad news,” but I think it’s more bad than good.

According to the CDC, the teen vaping rate continued to climb in 2015. That’s the bad news. The good news is it isn’t climbing as rapidly as it was in 2014.

Teen Vaping Rate

The teen vaping rate is now 16 percent; roughly one teen out of six has vaped in the past 30 days. In 2014, it was 13.4 percent. That figure tripled from 2013, when it was just 4.5 percent. So, basically it went from increasing 200 percent in 2014 to about 20 percent in 2015. Is that good news? I don’t know. It could be the teen vaping market is as saturated as it’s going to get.

Hopefully, part of the reason for the slowdown is most states now do prohibit selling vaping products to teenagers However, it really isn’t very hard for kids to order vaping products online, which seriously needs to be banned by the FDA.

teen smoking

The FDA has been dawdling for well over a year now on e-cigarette regulations. And in that time, the teen vaping use continues to climb … though perhaps it isn’t quite “skyrocketing” like it was a couple of years ago. It’s damned frustrating. I cannot envision why it has taken so long to finalize regulations. All I can think of is the lawyers must be making the decisions at this point.

The draft FDA regulations that came out a while ago now were pretty weak, and didn’t do a heck of a lot to address teen vaping use. The FDA proposed banning sales to minors, but as I mentioned earlier most states already do this anyway. That won’t make a dramatic difference.

e-cig ad
A real e-cig ad.

The FDA neglected to ban online sales (you can’t sell cigarettes online), nor did the agency address e-cigarette marketing and advertising — both of these are serious issues that need to be dealt with in my opinion. E-cigarette companies are using the exact same kind of ads making e-cigs look sexy and sophisticated that cigarette companies successfully used for decades to make their products appear cool to kids.

I’m perfectly fine with people using e-cigarettes to quit smoking. When all else fails, I feel they have nothing to lose. And while I certainly don’t trust that e-cigarettes are 100 percent benign (the vapour is known to contain formaldehyde and diactyl) , they are less toxic than cigarettes.

However, I’m not cool with teenagers simply finding  different delivery system to get physically addicted to nicotine to begin with. And unfortunately, that is a big part of the e-cigarette market. The e-cigarette companies can act all innocent all they want … they’ve also put their brand names on women’s panties. That’s not about people getting off of cigarettes. That’s about enticing horny young teens to use your product.

The other good news is largely because of e-cigarettes, the teen smoking rate has basically completely collapsed. I saw one graph that showed that the 12th-grade smoking rate in 2013 is now at a minuscule 6.7 percent. When I started blogging about tobacco about 10-12 years ago, the teen smoking rate was pushing 30 percent.

The CDC report also states that the middle school vaping rate is about 5.3 percent. Again, this is up dramatically from 2011, when less than 1 percent of all middle schoolers were vaping.

 

Bills would cut CDC funding for smoking prevention; limit FDA review of e-cigs, candy cigars

rogers

I wasn’t even aware these bills were out there until I saw this recent editorial from The Hill.

There are two bills floating through Congress that would cut more than 50 percent of the funding for a Centers for Disease Control program to prevent kids from taking up smoking and for helping them to quit once they’ve started.

The second bill is even more heinous. It would restrict the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight over e-cigarettes and candy-flavoured cigars., including oversight over new tobacco products.

Gosh, I wonder who is lobbying for both of these bills?

Even though the editorial doesn’t get into partisanship, it’s also pretty obvious to me that these are likely both Republican-sponsored bills. Why they would want to cut funding for tobacco education and prevention is beyond me. I have no doubt the people behind these bills are receiving campaign contributions from Big Tobacco. It’s so cynical. And 77 percent of Big Tobacco’s political contributions go toward Republicans.

Tobacco6.6MbyParty2011-12

Fortunately, even though these provisions have been approved by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, I doubt that either bill will become law, as long as a Democrat is in the White House. But, what a waste of time and energy to be even be proposed such ridiculous ideas.

The FDA is expected to release rules and regulations — eventually, one of these days — regarding e-cigarettes.

FDA study: Cigars are not safer than cigarettes

 

APTOPIX Cuba Cigar Festival

This story actually surprised me a little bit, because prior studies had suggested that cigarettes were actually more dangerous than cigars because cigarette tobacco is a different kind of tobacco from cigar tobacco, and it is also cured differently. Allan Brandt also talked about this somewhat in his excellent book, “The Cigarette Century.”

(Part of where this idea comes from is people smoked cigars all through the 18th century, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that there was a huge uptick in lung cancer cases — roughly about 30 years after cigarettes started becoming popular in the early 1900s.)

cigar

The latest study done by the FDA contradicts this notion, showing no tangible difference in the danger from cigarette smoke and cigar smoke.

 

From a Medical Daily article:

“The results reinforce the fact that cigar smoking carries many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking,” lead researcher from the FDA Cindy Chang said in a statement. “Cigar smoking is linked to fatal oral, esophageal, pancreatic, laryngeal, and lung cancers, as well as heart disease and aortic aneurysm.”

Chang and her colleagues combed through 22 studies from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland that focused on cigar smoking, smoking-related mortality, and all-cause mortality. The studies focused primarily on white men from North America and Europe in the 1960s or earlier. Researchers assessed the health risks for cigar smokers and compared them to people with no history of cigarette smoking or people who have never used tobacco.

People who smoked only cigars and had never smoked any other tobacco products still stood a higher risk for all-cause mortality. Risk for death caused by oral, esophageal, and lung cancers increased significantly after a person started smoking cigars, even if they reported not inhaling cigar smoke. People who smoked cigarettes before picking up cigars were at a significantly higher risk for lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) compared to those who smoked cigars exclusively.

I found some other links that state that cigarettes do seem to be more dangerous as far as causing COPD than just cigars.

What’s worrisome about this story is that cigar use is up — wayyy up. I believe part of the reason why is people are thinking cigars are safer than cigarettes. (The increase in cigar use has correlated with a sharp decline in smoking.) Cigar use has doubled in the U.S. from 6.2 billion in 2000 to 13.7 billion in 2011.

One thing to keep in mind about cigars is that they contain considerably more tobacco than a cigarette. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one cigar contains as much tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes. So, even if you just smoke one cigar a day, you’re consuming as much tobacco as 20 cigarettes.

More maps … and smoking rates

Here are some maps I forgot.

The top map is smoking bans.

The second map is cigarette taxes.

The bottom map is smoking rates.

See a correlation? Why, where there are smoking bans, smoking rates go down. What an amazing coincidence. Which is why I’m all for smoking bans. Whatever fascist approach has to be taken to persuade smokers its time to quit.

I also recently noticed that Virginia isn’t getting a fair shake in the smoking ban map. Virginia actually has a valid smoking ban, stronger than Pennsylvania’s, but it has some loopholes, so I guess they don’t get any credit in this map. Virginia should be white in opinion, or at purple.

The CDC recently released its statewide smoking rate survey. Utah, where you burn in Hell for lighting up a cigarettes, is the lowest again at under 10 percent, while California is second at 12.9 percent, a big drop for California. Montana has also improved, dropping down to 16.8 percent, which is in the upper half. Montana is one of the few states in the country, however, in which the smoking rate for women (17.3 percent) is higher than the smoking rate for men, 16.4 percent.

Wisconsin is one of the latest states in the country to impose a smoking ban. Wisconsin also has an extremely high cigarette tax — over $2 a pack — and its smoking rate has dropped from over 20 percent down to 18.8 percent.

Interestingly, the top seven states, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Alabama and Mississippi, all have no smoking bans and low cigarette taxes. Oklahoma, Kentucky and West Virginia are the only states over 25 percent. When I first started studying this stuff, several states were over 30 percent. Kentucky has consistently been the highest smoking rate in the country.

Smoking rates