Wednesday, October 7, 2020

CDC 2019 Smoking & Vaping Data


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released data from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).  After a short delay, during which I caused the agency to correct an error in their release (here), I can now present the latest figures on smoking and vaping.  Like last year, our government has had the 2019 data for months but has not released any findings.

The prevalence of current smoking was 13.6%, which was not a significant change from 2018 (13.7%); that’s 34.1 million.  Twenty-two percent of Americans were former smokers, the same as the year before. 

Prevalence of current vaping increased from 3.2% in 2018, to 4.3% in 2019.  That translates to about 10.82 million American adult vapers in 2019, up from 8.07 million the year before.  That is the second annual increase and it represents the largest number of vapers since the CDC started tracking e-cigarette use in 2014.

The 10.82 million adult vapers includes 4 million current vapers who are also current smokers.  Think about this: If America’s public health leaders abandoned their war on vaping and instead adopted their British counterparts’ practice of speaking honestly about vastly safer vaping, these 4 million smokers might become completely smoke-free. That would result in an unprecedented smoking decline of 11.7%.    

Despite the misinformation campaign against smoke-free substitutes, the number of current vapers who were former smokers increased from 3.04 million in 2018, to 4.27 million in 2019.  That is over one million more than the year before, and the highest number since tracking started. 

Note that there were 2.55 million never smokers who vaped in 2019, up from 1.71 million the year before.  In addition, the age profile shifted, becoming a little older.  In 2018, over two-thirds of this group were 18-24 years old, dropping to 58 percent in 2019.  About one quarter were 25-34 years old, and ten percent were 35-44 years old. 

Tobacco and nicotine prohibitionists in government and elsewhere continue to portray vaping as dangerous and evil.  Despite this, the number of Americans using this vastly safer smoke-free nicotine delivery system continues to grow, but much too slowly.  The disgraceful and unethical campaign against these products continues to bias smokers against safer options.


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