adult man smokingThe number of adults in the United States who smoke dropped from 19.3% in 2010 to 19% in 2011, according to a report, Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2011, released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2005, the number was at 20.9%. The largest decline was seen in young adults aged 18-24, with smoking rates falling from 24.4% to 18.9% (a 22.5% decline).

“This augurs well for future declines in adult smoking and shows that the large decline in youth smoking is now showing up among young adults,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a statement. Myers noted the number of high school students who smoke is now at 18.1%, more than half of the 36.4% reported in 1997. “The US Surgeon General has found that nearly 90 percent of smokers start by age 18 and almost no one starts smoking after age 25, so these large reductions in youth and young adult smoking offer promise of greater adult smoking declines in the future.”

According to Myers, elected officials must continue to ensure the battle against tobacco is a national priority.

“We know how to make greater progress by implementing proven strategies, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free air laws, well-funded programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, hard-hitting media campaigns, and effective regulation of tobacco products and marketing,” he said. “To win the fight against tobacco, we need a strong and sustained commitment by all levels of government to implement these life-saving solutions.”