The decline in smoking over the past five years is “encouraging news,” but more decisive action is needed to protect Americans from the health effects of tobacco, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Statistics released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that adult smoking rates in the U.S. are trending downward – from 20.9 percent to 19.3 percent from 2005 to 2010. Significant disparities remain among age, income level, education, ethnicity and geography.

A statement issued by theAHA said the figures demonstrate the effectiveness of strong public policies and educational campaigns. “This is encouraging news as we face mounting challenges from the tobacco industry to block regulations intended to educate consumers about the health hazards associated with smoking.”

The AHA is urging elected officials to take more decisive action from what it calls, “the tobacco industry’s “destructive force.”

“With smoking rates particularly high among some ethnic groups and low-income Americans, population-based prevention strategies and federal regulations are critical to weaken tobacco’s deadly hold on many communities. Smoke-free policies, comprehensive smoking cessation programs and other clinical interventions combined with strong enforcement of federal regulations will further reduce rates in regions that continue to struggle with cardiovascular disease and soaring health care costs linked to tobacco use.

Cardiovascular disease linked to smoking is blamed for approximately one-third of the estimated 443,000 premature deaths each year.

For more information, visit To view the full CDC report, visit