A new government study shows cigarette smoking in the United States has hit an all-time low. New figures released Tuesday show about 14 percent of adults were smokers last year. That number is down roughly two percent from 2016.
A half-century ago, more than 40 percent of adults smoked in the U.S.
The decline in smokers over the years follows years of health warnings boosting public awareness about the addictive habit.
Experts attribute smoking as a cause for lung and many other cancers. In Nevada, it’s estimated that more than 2,000 people will be diagnosed this year with lung cancer.
Joshua Lawless, a visitor from Virginia, enjoys smoking. He’s part of the roughly 14 percent of u-s adults still lighting up.
“I picked it up when I was 22, so I’ve been smoking 13 years now,” he said.
Lawless says he doesn’t have plans to stop the addictive habit.
“I need to quit, but I don’t have any motivation,” Lawless said.
The the new numbers that revealed there is only 14 percent of U.S. residents smoking is the lowest level ever reached, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Janet Mack, a visitor from Michigan, thinks the decrease in smoking is a good thing.
“I think it’s a fabulous thing that so many people have chosen to quit or have chosen not to take it up,” Mack said.
“I think it’s good,” Nilda Vela, a tourist from Texas said. “I think it needs to be down to zero. I guess education has been working. It’s not good for anybody.”
The smoking habit was once common nearly everywhere in the early 60’s from inside buildings to airplanes and restaurants.
“It was a nuisance for everybody,” Vela said. “I mean even when I was a kid I could feel that it wasn’t good for you and you know, you just felt sick. You didn’t know you were inhaling toxins the whole time.”
Various initiatives are bringing down the rates, including smoking bans. Nevada passed the Clean Indoor Air Act in 2006, which prohibits smoking in most public places and indoor spots but certain establishments still permit it like casinos.
“It’s been quite a culture shock to walk into the casinos and still see people smoking in doors,” said Susie Hughes, of Liverpool England.
“I expected it,” Vela said. “I don’t like being around it at all. “
The latest CDC report shows people living in rural areas are more likely to smoke than city dwellers.
In Las Vegas, it may seem more apparent as tourists, like Lawless, fly in to try their luck.
“I wouldn’t go to a casino that didn’t allow you to smoke inside,” Lawless said.
Also likely contributing to the decline: The launch of e-cigarettes which heats liquid nicotine into a vapor.
Studies show vaping, as it’s called, is more common among teens than adults.