- 12% of U.S. adults smoke cigarettes, similar to 11% measured in 2022
- Smoking rates were 20% or higher from 1944 through 2012
- 8% of U.S. adults smoke e-cigarettes
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup’s latest update on cigarette smoking finds 12% of U.S. adults saying they smoked cigarettes in the past week, similar to the 11% measured a year ago but significantly lower than any other year in Gallup’s nearly 80-year trend.
The update is part of Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits survey, conducted July 3-27.
When Gallup first asked about cigarette smoking in 1944, 41% of U.S. adults said they smoked. A decade later, a historical high of 45% was reached. From then, smoking rates gradually descended, falling permanently below 30% in 1989 and 20% in 2015.
The decline in smoking has come as more Americans likely heed the warnings about the health dangers associated with cigarette smoking and as most public places prohibit it. The survey finds 76% of U.S. adults saying cigarettes are “very harmful” to people who use them, significantly more than for other tobacco-related products like pipes and cigars, as well as other substances like marijuana and alcohol.
A major reason for the decline in smoking is that fewer young adults today than in prior decades are smoking cigarettes. Typically, young adults had much higher smoking rates than other age groups. Whereas 35% of young adults said they smoked cigarettes in 2001-2003, the figure has dropped to 10% in 2019-2023 data.
Not only has the percentage of U.S. smokers declined, but so has the amount of smoking among current smokers. Since 2021, an average of 21% of U.S. smokers have said they consume a pack of cigarettes per day, and 6% smoke more than one pack. In the 1940s and 1950s, close to four in 10 smoked a pack per day, and about 20% smoked more than that.
During the 21st century, majorities have smoked less than a pack per day, including an average of 71% since 2021.
Vaping Rates Steady
In addition to asking about cigarette smoking, the poll asked about vaping, or e-cigarette smoking. Eight percent of U.S. adults say they smoked e-cigarettes in the past week, consistent with what Gallup has measured on three other occasions since 2019.
Young adults are the most likely to vape, with those under age 30 more than twice as likely as any other age group to smoke e-cigarettes.
In fact, vaping is now more common than cigarette smoking among young adults (18% vs. 10%, respectively). But marijuana usage surpasses both of those products among young adults; since 2019, an average of 27% of 18- to 29-year-olds have said they smoke marijuana.
Americans are less likely to view vaping than cigarette smoking as harmful to health, but a majority of 54% still see vaping as “very harmful.” Just 23% say the same about marijuana, though another 35% say it is “somewhat harmful.”
Americans continue to favor making the laws and regulations on vaping more strict. Fifty-five percent hold that view, with 32% wanting the laws to be kept as they are and 7% wanting them to be less strict. Majorities ranging from 54% to 64% have favored tightening vaping regulations over the past four years.
Cigarettes continue to fall out of favor with Americans, as only about one in eight U.S. adults now smoke them. Marijuana usage has surpassed cigarette usage in the U.S., while vaping still trails both. These changes seem to be driven by changing habits among young adults, who are more likely to smoke marijuana and e-cigarettes than cigarettes, and far less likely than young adults in past decades to smoke cigarettes.
The fact that Americans generally view cigarettes as the most harmful of the three suggests that public health efforts to discourage cigarette smoking have been getting through. Still, most Americans view vaping and marijuana as at least somewhat harmful to health, and public health experts who agree may want to make sure young adults get those messages too.
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