One in Four Americans Still Smoking
ATLANTA (AP) - The number of American adults who smoke held steady in 1998 at one in four - a rate that hardly budged during the 1990s despite anti-tobacco campaigns and new kick-the-habit aids like nicotine gum and the patch.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that 24.1 percent of Americans 18 and older smoked cigarettes in 1998, the latest year for which figures are available. The rate was 24.7 percent in 1997 and 25.5 percent in 1990.
The numbers fall far short of the CDC's goal of cutting the adult smoking rate to 15 percent by 2000.
The nation's smoking rate has dropped sharply since 1965, when 44 percent of adults were smokers. The figure leveled off in the 1990s - hovering between 24.1 and 26.5 percent - in part because smoking increased among 18-to-24-year-olds, who probably started in high school, the CDC said.
Dr. Corinne Husten, a medical officer with the CDC Office on Smoking and Health, said there are signs the smoking rate can go much lower.
The 1998 survey found that only 11.3 percent of college-educated adults smoke and 39.2 percent of adult smokers had tried to quit in the preceding year.