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By Rick Holmes
June 18, 2013 5:15 p.m.



As I’ve said before, you don’t have to criminalize unhealthy behavior to reduce it. Case in point is the greatest public health success story since the development of antibiotics, vaccinations and sewage collection and treatment systems.

Smoking tobacco among American adults has now dropped to 18 percent, the CDC reports.  Considering nicotine is a contender for the most addictive substance known to science, that’s pretty impressive. Here’s how the numbers have changed over the last 50 years:

Smoking Prevalence Among U.S. Adults, 1955–2010

(as a percent of population, 18 years of age and older)











































































































































































































Year Overall Population Males Females Whites Blacks
1955 56.9% 28.4%
1965 42.4% 51.9 33.9 42.1% 45.8%
1970 37.4 44.1 31.5 37.0 41.4
1980 33.2 37.6 29.3 32.9 36.9
1990 25.5 28.4 22.8 25.6 26.2
2000 23.3 25.7 21.0 24.1 23.2
2002 22.5 25.2 20.0 23.6 22.4
2003 21.6 24.1 19.2 22.7 21.5
2004 20.9 23.4 18.5 22.2 20.2
2007 20.8 23.9 18.0 21.9 23.0
2010 19.3 21.5 17.3 21.0 20.6


Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web: www.cdc.gov.








 

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