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More people are heeding the message of the Great American Smokeout

November 18, 2010|By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times
  • Smoking rates are on the decline in the U.S. -- or at least in Minnesota.
Smoking rates are on the decline in the U.S. -- or at least in Minnesota. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images )

Happy Great American Smokeout Day!

Thursday is the 35th annual day devoted to encouraging a smoke-free lifestyle. So it seemed like an opportune time to share the latest data on the smoking habits of American adults.

According to data from the Minnesota Heart Survey, for which more than 3,000 people were interviewed six times between 1980 and 2009, smoking rates are on the decline. Fewer people are taking up the habit, and more people are kicking it, researchers found.

More specifically:

  • The percentage of men who actively smoke has dropped from 33% in 1980 to 16% last year. The number of cigarettes smoked per day fell from 24 to 14 over those three decades.
  • For women, the percentage of active smokers declined from 33% to 12% over the same period, and the number of cigarettes per day went from 21 to 10.
  • Male smokers in the study picked up the habit just before their 18th birthdays throughout the course of the study. For women, the average age at which they began to smoke regularly fell slightly from 19 to just under 18.
  • The ranks of those who have never smoked rose from 28% to 55% in men and from 45% to 60% in women.
The data were presented this week at the American Heart Assn.’s Scientific Sessions meeting in Chicago.

Here’s more information on the Great American Smokeout from its sponsor, the American Cancer Society.

RELATED: U.S. smoking rate hasn't changed, CDC says

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