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Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General - Smoking Cessation by the Numbers

About 34 million U.S. adults currently smoke cigarettes.

Statistics related to smoking in the United States of America

  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States
  • 480,000 Americans die from smoking each year, accounting for nearly 1 in 5 deaths
  • 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease
  • Smoking-related death and disease cost the United States over $300 billion each year

Smoking cessation improves health, saves lives, and reduces financial burden.

Quitting smoking:

  • Reduces risk of premature death and can add as much as a decade to life expectancy
  • Reduces risk for many adverse health effects, including reproductive health outcomes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and 12 types of cancer
  • Benefits people who have already been diagnosed with coronary heart disease or COPD
  • Has benefits at any age, with greater benefits for those who quit earlier in life
  • Reduces the financial burden that smoking places on people who smoke, healthcare systems, and society

Most adults who smoke want to quit; many try to quit and eventually succeed in quitting.

Statistics related to quitting smoking

  • Nearly 70% of adults who smoke say they want to quit
  • Each year, over 50% of adults who smoke try to quit
  • 3 in 5 adults who ever smoked have quit

Evidence-based treatments work.

  • 3 forms of counseling: individual, group, and telephone  
  • 7 medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) including 5 forms of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and 2 non-nicotine medications
  • Combining counseling and medications can more than double the chances of successfully quitting
  • Using combinations of NRT, such as long-acting NRT (patch) with short-acting NRT (gum or lozenge), can further increase the likelihood of quitting
  • Text messaging and web-based cessation interventions can help people successfully quit smoking

Evidence-based treatments are underused.

  • Fewer than 1 in 3 adults who try to quit smoking use proven cessation treatments.
  • Coordinated action is needed at the clinical, system, and population levels to:
    • Increase treatment delivery by integrating cessation interventions into routine healthcare
    • Improve treatment access through comprehensive, barrier-free, and widely promoted insurance coverage of smoking cessation treatments
    • Create environments that encourage people to quit smoking and make quitting easier by:
      • Raising the price of cigarettes
      • Implementing hard-hitting mass media campaigns
      • Implementing smoke-free policies
      • Requiring pictorial health warnings
      • Maintaining statewide comprehensive tobacco control programs.

E-cigarettes are a changing group of products and further research is needed on their potential effectiveness for smoking cessation.

  • Research is uncertain on whether e-cigarettes, in general, increase smoking cessation.
  • Some research suggests that using e-cigarettes containing nicotine is associated with greater smoking cessation compared to e-cigarettes that don’t contain nicotine, and some research suggests that more frequent use of e-cigarettes is associated with greater smoking cessation than less frequent use.
  • The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a quit smoking aid, and more research is needed on whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking and to better understand the health effects of e-cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products.
  • In order for adult smokers to achieve any meaningful health benefits from e-cigarettes, they would need to fully switch to e-cigarettes and stop smoking cigarettes completely.
  • Among those who have switched completely, the ultimate goal should be to also stop using e-cigarettes completely to achieve the maximum health benefit. 

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Content created by Office of the Surgeon General
Content last reviewed on January 23, 2020