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Research & Evidence: Public Policy

The fact that most smokers start smoking regularly before age 20 years highlights the unique window of opportunity to target prevention efforts among young people and save millions of lives and avert health-care costs in the future.
Spatial, temporal, and demographic patterns in prevalence of smoking tobacco use and initiation among young people in 204 countries and territories, 1990–2019
GBD 2019 Tobacco Collaborators
The Lancet


Ending the global tobacco epidemic is a defining challenge in global health. Timely and comprehensive estimates of the prevalence of smoking tobacco use and attributable disease burden are needed to guide tobacco control efforts nationally and globally.

Universally, smoking cessation rates among established smokers are poor. Preventing young people from starting use of and becoming addicted to tobacco products remains a key strategy to end the tobacco epidemic. Previous country-specific studies have found that initiation of smoking tobacco use occurs predominantly among young people and have found mixed progress in reducing the prevalence of smoking tobacco use among young people. Current and comparable estimates for all countries are needed to inform targeted interventions and policies.


Walton, MS, Kimp; Teresa W. Wang, PhD; Gillian L. Schauer, PhD; Sean Hu, MD; Henraya F. McGruder, PhD; Ahmed Jamal, MBBS; Stephen Babb, MPH. "State-Specific Prevalence of Quit Attempts Among Adult Cigarette Smokers - United States, 2011-2017." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, July 19, 2019.

From 1965 to 2017, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among U.S. adults aged ≥18 years decreased from 42.4% to 14.0%, in part because of increases in smoking cessation (1,2). Increasing smoking cessation can reduce smoking-related disease, death, and health care expenditures (3). Increases in cessation are driven in large part by increases in quit attempts (4). Healthy People 2020 objective 4.1 calls for increasing the proportion of U.S. adult cigarette smokers who made a past-year quit attempt to ≥80% (5). To assess state-specific trends in the prevalence of past-year quit attempts among adult cigarette smokers, CDC analyzed data from the 2011–2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys for all 50 states, the District of Columbia (DC), Guam, and Puerto Rico. During 2011–2017, quit attempt prevalence increased in four states (Kansas, Louisiana, Virginia, and West Virginia), declined in two states (New York and Tennessee), and did not significantly change in the remaining 44 states, DC, and two territories. In 2017, the prevalence of past-year quit attempts ranged from 58.6% in Wisconsin to 72.3% in Guam, with a median of 65.4%. In 2017, older smokers were less likely than younger smokers to make a quit attempt in most states. Implementation of comprehensive state tobacco control programs and evidence-based tobacco control interventions, including barrier-free access to cessation treatments, can increase the number of smokers who make quit attempts and succeed in quitting (2,3).