Although most older adults who used to smoke regularly have quit, approximately 8.4% of adults over the age of 65 were still smoking cigarettes in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite that, however, the smoking rate in the United States has reached a record low in a record amount of time.
According to a new government report released by the CDC, the rate of smoking among adults in the U.S. fell to 15% last year, which marks the biggest one-year decline in more than 20 years.
The smoking rate has been falling for decades now, but usually only by one point or less every year. However, the rate reduced by two percentage points from 2014 to 2015, which is unheard of.
According to Brian King from the CDC, the last time the smoking rate decreased this rapidly was from 1992 to 1993, when it fell 1.5 percentage points.
Another potential cause for the rapid decrease in smoking rates is the laws in place to prevent underage individuals from smoking.
U.S. News and World Report says that a new survey finds most Americans would support pushing the legal smoking age even higher than 18.
Dr. Adam Goldstein of the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center conducted a survey of more than 4,800 adults nationwide, asking if they supported raising the minimum age for tobacco purchases to 19, 20, or 21.
In some counties and states, the legal age for adults to purchase tobacco products is already higher than 18, but this survey has proven that the movement holds national support.
Even more impressively, support “seems to cross political lines, and it is one policy measure that the majority of those surveyed can agree on,” said lead researcher Dr. Adam Goldstein.
Though many are under the impression that if a minor wants to smoke, they will, this data proves that raising age limits does seem to matter.
According to a 2015 report from the National Academy of Medicine, making the legal age for buying tobacco 21 nationwide would lead to a 12% drop in the smoking rate.