The adult smoking rate is at a historically low level, according to the 2017 National Health Interview Survey released recently by the CDC. The figures show that adult smoking rates decreased from 15.5 percent in 2016 to 13.9 percent in 2017 – numbers that “reflect enormous progress in fighting tobacco use and will yield tremendous benefit to lung health in this country,” according to Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association (ALA).

Wimmer gave credit for the drop to public policies that include increased tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention and quit-smoking programs, hard hitting media campaigns like CDC's Tips From Former Smokers campaign and comprehensive smokefree workplace laws.

“The ALA has long advocated for these important public policies, and chronicles the progress of the federal government and states in putting them in place as part of its annual 'State of Tobacco Control' report,” he said in a statement.

While both adult and youth smoking rates continue to decline nationally, Wimmer stressed that not everyone in America has benefited equally from this progress.

“Certain parts of the country and populations continue to use tobacco at higher rates putting them at greater risk for tobacco-caused death and disease. This includes people with lower income or educational levels, those with behavioral health conditions, LGBT people and those living in rural communities. Everyone deserves the chance to lead a healthy life, and more work is needed to address this disparity and improve health equity.”

He urged more states and the federal government to adopt proven policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and tobacco prevention and cessation efforts must be focused on populations with high rates of tobacco use.