Americas

Latest Gallup Update Shows Cigarette Smoking Near Historical Lows

Only 21% of Americans report smoking cigarettes in past week

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual update on Americans' smoking habits finds the rate of cigarette smoking among the adult population near the low point in the more than 60-year history of this question. Additionally, the poll shows a continuing decline in the amount of cigarettes U.S. smokers smoke each day. Only one in four smokers say they began smoking prior to age 16, the lowest percentage Gallup has measured. The vast majority of smokers continue to express a desire to quit, but also consider themselves addicted to cigarettes.  

In the July 12-15, 2007, poll, 21% of American adults report that they smoked cigarettes in the past week. Gallup has never found a lower percentage in the more than 60 years it has asked this question -- although from a statistical perspective, a 22% reading in 2004 and a pair of 23% measurements in 1999 and 2006 would be considered equivalent to the current reading.

When Gallup first asked this question in 1944, 41% of Americans reported smoking. Since that time, the smoking rate has shown a gradual decline. From the 1940s through the mid-1970s, at least 4 in 10 Americans said they smoked. During the late 1970s through the late 1980s, the percentage of U.S. smokers was between 30% and 38%. Since 1989, less than 30% of Americans have reported smoking each time Gallup has asked about smoking habits.

Not only are fewer Americans smoking than in the past, but those who smoke report that they are smoking less. The majority of smokers, 55%, say they smoke less than one pack of cigarettes per day. That percentage has been consistently above 50% since 1999. From 1944 until 1999, the majority of smokers reported smoking a pack or more per day in all but one survey.

The most notable change has been the decline in heavy smoking -- less than 1 in 10 smokers now report smoking more than one pack per day. From 1944 until the late-1980s it was not unusual for 20% or more of smokers to report smoking more than a pack of cigarettes each day.

From time to time, Gallup asks smokers at what age they began smoking. In the current poll, 25% of smokers say they began before they turned 16, 40% began between the ages of 16 and 18, and 35% were over 18 when they started smoking.

The 25% who report that they started smoking before the age of 16 is the lowest Gallup has ever found. There had been reports of declining rates of teen smoking in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the Gallup data may now be picking up some of that trend. However, given the relatively small sample of smokers in the current survey, it is unclear if that is the case.

In addition to the 21% of Americans who say they currently smoke, another 23% say they have smoked on a regular basis before. Thus, the majority of Americans, 56%, say they have never regularly smoked cigarettes.

Perhaps the most consistent variation Gallup finds in smoking behavior is by education level. In the current poll, just 13% of college graduates currently smoke, and 65% of this group have never smoked. The rate of smoking is nearly double among those with some college education (24%), and is more than double (27%) among those with no college education. A majority of those with no college education report smoking on a regular basis at some point in their lives.

Current smokers widely agree on two things -- they are addicted to cigarettes and they would like to quit. Eighty-one percent say they would like to give up smoking and 79% consider themselves addicted to cigarettes. Those results are fairly typical of what Gallup has found recently, but the percentage of smokers holding these attitudes has increased in the past decade.

There is not a perfect overlap between the attitudes, even though the vast majority of smokers (67%) say they are addicted and that they would like to give up smoking. Eleven percent of smokers consider themselves addicted to cigarettes but do not express a desire to quit smoking. Meanwhile, 14% of smokers do not consider themselves addicted but would like to quit, and 6% neither consider themselves addicted nor express a desire to quit.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,001 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 12-15, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 176 smokers, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 825 non-smokers, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

10. Have you, yourself, smoked any cigarettes in the past week?

     Yes

      No

     %

     %

2007 Jul 12-15    

     21

     79

2006 Nov 9-12    

     23

     77

2006 Jul 6-9    

     25

     75

2005 Nov 7-10    

     25

     75

2005 Jul 7-10    

     25

     75

2004 Nov 3-5    

     22

     78

2004 Jul 8-11         

     25

     75

2003 Nov 3-5    

     26

     74

2003 Jul 7-9    

     25

     75

2002 Jul 9-11    

     24

     76

2001 Jul 19-22    

     28

     72

2000 Nov 13-15    

     25

     75

1999 Sep 23-26    

     23

     77

1998 Jun 22-23    

     28

     72

1997 Sep 25-28    

     26

     74

1997 Jun 26-29    

     26

     74

1997 Jun 23-24    

     26

     74

1997 May 6-7    

     25

     75

1997 Mar 24-26    

     27

     73

1996 May 9-12    

     27

     73

1994 Jul 15-17    

     27

     73

1994 Mar 11-13    

     27

     73

1991 Nov 7-10    

     28

     72

1990 Jul 6-8    

     27

     73

1989 May 15-18    

     27

     73

1989 Apr 4-9    

     29

     71

1988 Jul 1-7    

     32

     68

1987 Mar 14-18    

     30

     70

1986 Jun 9-16    

     31

     69

1985 Jun 7-10    

     35

     65

1983     

     38

     62

1981 Jun 26-29    

     35

     65

1978 Jan 20-23    

     36

     64

1977 Aug 19-22    

     38

     62

1974 May 10-13    

     40

     60

1972 Apr 21-24    

     43

     57

1971 May 14-17    

     42

     58

1969 Jul 24-29    

     40

     60

1957 Jun    

     42

     58

1954 Jun    

     45

     55

1949 Oct    

     44

     56

1944 Nov    

     41

     59

11. (Asked of smokers) About how many cigarettes do you smoke each day?

BASED ON 176 SMOKERS

Less
than
one
pack

One
pack

More
than
one
pack

No
answer

Mean

Median

%

%

%

%

 

 

2007 Jul 12-15

55

35

9

1

15

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006 Jul 6-9

55

36

8

1

14

10

2005 Jul 7-10

58

31

9

2

14

10

2004 Jul 8-11

52

33

14

1

16

15

2003 Jul 7-9

53

35

10

2

15

12

2002 Jul 9-11

54

29

17

*

16

10

2001 Jul 19-22

59

29

11

*

15

10

2000 Nov 13-15

62

29

9

0

15

10

1999 Sep 23-26

55

35

9

1

14

--

1997 Jun 26-29

48

32

19

1

--

20

1997 Jun 23-24

48

30

21

1

19

20

1996 May 9-12

43

38

16

3

17

20

1994 Mar 11-13

44

38

18

0

--

20

1991 Nov 7-10

48

34

17

1

--

20

1990 Jul 5-8

51

32

14

3

--

--

1989 May 15-18

39

39

20

2

--

20

1988 Jul 1-7

40

38

20

2

--

20

1987 Mar 14-18

48

32

18

2

--

20

1986 Jun 9-16

43

33

22

2

--

20

1981 Jan 26-29

38

37

24

1

--

20

1978 Jan 20-23

34

35

30

1

--

20

1977 Aug 19-22

41

31

27

1

--

20

1957 Jun

44

41

15

*

--

20

1954 Jun

39

35

26

--

--

20

1949 Oct

42

38

16

4

--

20

1944 Nov

43

33

22

2

--

20

* = Less than 0.5%

12. (Asked of smokers) At what age did you begin smoking?

BASED ON 176 SMOKERS

Under 16

16 to 18

Over 18

No
opinion

Mean

%

%

%

%

 

2007 Jul 12-15

25

40

35

*

18

 

 

 

 

 

2002 Jul 9-11

37

29

33

1

18

2000 Nov 13-15

37

39

21

3

17

1999 Sep 23-26

36

35

29

*

18

1994 Mar 11-13

32

37

29

2

--

1991 Nov 7-10

34

36

29

1

--

* = Less than 0.5%

13. (Asked of smokers) All things considered, would you like to give up smoking, or not?


BASED ON 176 SMOKERS

     Yes

     No

     No
     opinion

     %

     %

     %

2007 Jul 12-15    

     81

     17

     1

 

 

 

2006 Jul 6-9    

     75

     22

     3

2005 Jul 7-10    

     76

     22

     2

2004 Jul 8-11    

     82

     17

     1

2003 Jul 7-9    

     82

     17

     1

2002 Jul 9-11    

     79

     18

     3

2000 Nov 13-15    

     82

     16

     2

1999 Sep 23-26    

     76

     23

     1

1997 Jun 26-29    

     74

     24

     2

1997 Jun 23-24    

     64

     34

     2

1996 May 9-12    

     73

     26

     1

1994 Mar 11-13    

     70

     28

     2

1991 Nov 7-10    

     76

     22

     2

1990 Jul 6-8    

     74

     24

     2

1989 May 15-18    

     63

     33

     4

1988 Jul 1-7    

     68

     27

     5

1987 Mar 14-18    

     77

     20

     3

1986 Jun 9-16    

     75

     22

     3

1981 Jun 26-29    

     66

     30

     4

1977 Aug 19-22    

     66

     29

     5

14. (Asked of smokers) Do you consider yourself addicted to cigarettes or not?

BASED ON 176 SMOKERS

Yes,
addicted

No,
not

No
opinion

%

%

%

2007 Jul 12-15

79

21

*

 

 

 

2006 Jul 6-9

75

24

*

2005 Jul 7-10

74

25

1

2004 Jul 8-11

78

21

1

2003 Jul 7-9

72

28

*

2000 Nov 13-15

74

26

--

1999 Sep 23-26

72

28

*

1997 Jun 26-29

73

27

*

1997 Jun 23-24

68

31

1

1996

69

31

--

1991

70

29

1

1990

61

39

*

* = Less than 0.5%

16. (Asked of non-smokers) Did you, yourself, ever smoke cigarettes on a regular basis?

BASED ON 825 NON-SMOKERS

     Yes

     No

     No
     answer

     %

     %

     %

2007 Jul 12-15    

     29

     71

     --

 

 

 

2006 Jul 6-9    

     34

     66

     --

2005 Jul 7-10    

     30

     70

     *

2004 Jul 8-11    

     29

     71

     --

2003 Jul 7-9    

     35

     65

     *

2002 Jul 9-11    

     34

     66

     *

1997 Jun 26-29    

     32

     68

     --

1996 May 9-12    

     31

     68

     1

1994 Mar 11-13    

     36

     64

     --

1990 Jul 6-8    

     35

     65

     --

* = Less than 0.5%

COMBINED RESULTS (Q.10/Q.16): SMOKING HABITS (BASED ON NATIONAL ADULTS)

Current
smoker

Former
smoker

Never
smoked

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2007 Jul 12-15

21

23

56

--

 

 

 

 

2006 Jul 6-9

25

26

49

--

2005 Jul 7-10

25

22

52

*

2004 Jul 8-11

25

22

53

--

2003 Jul 7-9

25

26

49

*

2002 Jul 9-11

24

26

50

*

1997 Jun 26-29

26

24

50

--

1996 May 9-12

27

23

50

*

1994 Mar 11-13

27

26

47

--

* = Less than 0.5%

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/28213/Latest-Gallup-Update-Shows-Cigarette-Smoking-Near-Historical-Lows.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030