Wednesday, October 6, 2021

CDC Releases 2020 Adult Smoking & Vaping Data


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released data from the 2020 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). 

The prevalence of current smoking was 12.4%; that’s 30.7 million.  Twenty-two percent of Americans were former smokers, the same as the year before. 

Prevalence of current vaping declined to 3.7% from 4.3% in 2019.  That translates to about 9.13 million American adult vapers in 2020. 

The 9.13 million current adult vapers includes 2.44 million 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 acknowledging that it’s vastly safer, those smokers might walk away from the fire. That would result in a one-year smoking decline of 8%.

Perhaps due to the misinformation campaign against smoke-free substitutes, the number of current vapers who were former smokers declined from 4.27 million in 2019 to 3.95 million in 2020.  However, that number represents the highest percentage (43%) of all vapers since 2014.  One wonders how federal officials can still pontificate – with a straight face – that there’s no evidence that vaping helps smokers quit.    

The best news is in the next chart, which shows the prevalence of smoking and vaping among young adults 18-24 years old.  Smoking has fallen in this group by more than half since 2014, from 16.6% to 7.4%. 


It is noteworthy that the prevalence of vaping in young adults never reflects the high prevalence in high school students.  High school vaping was 20% in 2020, but registered only 9.4% among young adults.  There are several reasons for this.  First, NYTS high school vaping rates are hyperinflated compared with other federal surveys, as I demonstrated here and here.  Second, current use of these products among teens is “once in the past month,” whereas current use among young adults is “every day or some days.”  Third, a small increase in tobacco use after high school is expected, as 18-year-olds escape parental and school supervision, and tobacco can be purchased legally.  It is likely that national adoption of Tobacco 21 will make further inroads into smoking and vaping.

The fact that young adult vaping rates are half of those among high schoolers falsifies federal officials’ claims that vaping is enslaving a whole generation of teens to nicotine.  Previously the claim was just an exaggeration.  Now the claim is being used by the FDA to eradicate a whole generation of life-saving e-cigarette and vaping businesses.


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