THURSDAY, Nov. 13, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- It's unlikely the United States will meet its Healthy People 2010 objective of reducing the adult smoking rate to 12 percent or less, say experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That failure will mean continued high levels of smoking-related health problems, deaths and lost productivity will still plague the nation, according to a number of CDC studies released Thursday.
Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, but comprehensive tobacco control programs could prevent millions of premature deaths and save the nation billions.
In one study, researchers analyzed data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. They found that 19.8 percent (43.4 million) of American adults were current cigarette smokers, a level somewhat lower than in 2006 (20.8 percent), 2005 (20.9 percent), and 2004 (20.9 percent).
However, based on that trend, it's doubtful the United States will achieve its 2010 target, the researchers said.
In 2007, 39.8 percent (13.4 million) adult smokers who wanted to quit actually did stop smoking for one day or more in the previous 12 months, the same study found. Among the 86.8 million adults who smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime (defined as "ever smokers"), 52.1 percent (47.3 million) no longer smoked by the time they were interviewed in 2007.
Another study found that between 2000-2004, about 443,000 people in the United States died prematurely each year due to smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. That number is higher than the average estimate of 438,000 deaths per year from 1997 to 2001 and is predominately the result of population growth, the researchers said.
This analysis of the CDC's Adult and Child Health Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Morbidity and Economic Cost data also showed that average smoking-related health-care costs in the United States totaled about $96 billion a year from 2001 to 2004. When that's combined with lost productivity, the total economic burden of smoking is about $193 billion a year, the researchers said.
In comparison, spending on comprehensive, state-based tobacco prevention and control programs in fiscal year 2007 were about 325 times less than that $193 billion, according to the study.
The authors of a third study suggested that efforts to reduce exposure to tobacco smoke (including secondhand smoke) could help reverse increases in costs and deaths caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a preventable and treatable condition that's the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2005, COPD accounted for one in 20 deaths in the United States. Smoking and exposure to air pollution are major risk factors for COPD.
Between 2000 and 2005, the COPD death rate in the United States increased 8 percent -- from 116,494 to 126,005, the study noted. The analysis of data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System found that more women (65,193) than men (60,812) died from COPD in 2005, while the number of female and male deaths in 2000 was about the same -- 58,436 and 58,058, respectively.
The researchers also found that between 2000 and 2005, COPD death rates among women increased from 54.4 to 56 per 100,000 but decreased among men, from 83.8 to 77.3 per 100,000.
The studies were published in the Nov. 13 issue of the CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The American Cancer Society has more about smoking and health.