It’s been 20 years since a panel of tobacco executives stood before Congress and admitted that their products were both addictive and linked to cancer. Since then, Americans have shifted their understanding about the use of tobacco products in ways not previously thought possible. These changes in perception and behavior are due in part to the public health initiatives and anti-tobacco campaigns of the last two decades.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to regulate the marketing, sales, and distribution of these items. Even as new forms of tobacco use are being developed, the FDA aims to curtail consumption by promoting public health programs. However, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five U.S. adults are still using tobacco products, most of whom are smokers. The CDC’s number accounts for nearly 42 million people.

Other key takeaways from the report include:

  • Use of any tobacco product was more common among men (25.2%) than among women (15.4%) and more common among adults aged 25–44 years (23.3%) than among those aged 65 years and older (11.1%).
  • By race and ethnicity, tobacco product use ranged from 9% among Asians to 26.6% among American Indians/Alaska Natives.
  • Rates of use of any tobacco product were higher among adults living in the Midwest, people with a general equivalency diploma (GED), people with annual household incomes under $35,000, adults uninsured or insured through Medicaid, people with a disability, and people who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
  • Among all groups, use of any tobacco product was most common among adults with serious psychological distress (47.2%), compared with use among those without serious psychological distress (19.2%).

“Too many Americans are harmed by cigarette smoking, which is the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and disease,” CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, said. “CDC will continue to use proven strategies to help smokers quit and to prevent children from using any tobacco products.”

As one of its board-approved positions, ONS continues to lobby for smoking cessation and tobacco control. Find out how you can get involved in the local, state, and national conversation through ONS’s advocacy efforts.