The smoking rate among adult Americans in 2022 dropped to its lowest since health officials began tracking it, according to survey results published recently. This significant decrease parallels an increase in the percentage of U.S. adults who vape.
Preliminary data from the 2022 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) revealed that just 11.2 percent of adults smoked either every day or occasionally. In comparison, over half as many adults surveyed, 5.8 percent, reported using vaping products daily or periodically. By the fourth quarter of 2022, adult vaping prevalence hit a record high of 6.6 percent—the highest since the NHIS incorporated vaping in its survey in 2019.
The NHIS is an annual survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s worth noting that these results are estimates and could be revised later.
Vaping Appears to Accelerate the Rapid Drop in Smoking
These survey results offer further evidence that the long-term decline in adult smoking has been hastened by the rise in vaping. In 2009, when e-cigarettes first appeared in the U.S., the adult smoking prevalence was 20.6 percent. Over the years, adult smoking has plummeted by more than 45 percent. In the 12 years between 1997 and 2009, smoking only declined by 16.6 percent (from 24.7 to 20.6 percent).
The rate of vaping experienced a brief decline in 2020, following the 2019 “EVALI” scare, when health officials inaccurately attributed thousands of lung injuries to nicotine vaping, which were in fact caused by contaminated THC vape carts. This misinformation scared many adult smokers away from vaping products. However, since hitting a low of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2020, the adult vaping rate has rebounded and has consistently remained over 5 percent since October 2021.
The adult smoking and vaping trends align with what we know about youth smoking: adolescent cigarette use began a rapid decline as vaping gained popularity, with teenage smoking now on the brink of extinction.
According to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), just 1.5 percent of middle- and high school students smoked in the past 30 days. Only about one in 250 high schoolers reported smoking daily or almost daily in 2021. (The CDC has not yet released smoking results from the 2022 NYTS.)
Media Coverage of the Smoking Decline
Regrettably, the news of the smoking decline received minimal attention from the national news media. CNN and AP reported on it, but most major news outlets—including CBS News, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times—chose to run the AP story rather than assigning their own reporters. The New York Times did not appear to cover the story at all.
Neither CNN nor AP suggested that the rise in adult vaping prevalence contributed positively to the decrease in cigarette smoking. Instead, they presented vaping as a related risk.
The AP story included quotes from anti-vaping advocate Jonathan Samet, who expressed concern that “nicotine addiction” might persist due to the popularity of vaping, even as smoking continues to decline. The reporter also cited the American Heart Association’s claim that “Nicotine addiction has its own health implications, including the risk of high blood pressure and a narrowing of the arteries” (although nicotine use outside of smoking is not proven to cause long-term high blood pressure or arterial damage).
CNN reporter Jen Christensen listed numerous reasons why no one — including current cigarette smokers — should attempt vaping. She quoted previous statements made by the CDC, FDA, American Lung Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the U.S. Surgeon General.
Christensen wrote, “The US Food and Drug Administration says there is not enough evidence to support claims that these products are effective tools to help people quit smoking. None are approved for this purpose. The FDA says there are no safe tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, vapes, and other electronic nicotine delivery systems.”
A Balanced Perspective on Vaping and Smoking Trends
Despite the ongoing debate surrounding the safety and impact of vaping, the evidence strongly suggests that vaping is a key player in the significant decrease in smoking rates. The transition from traditional smoking to vaping has been evident not just among adults but also among teenagers. To better understand the potential benefits and risks of vaping, continued research and open dialogue are critical.
It’s important to note that while nicotine use, in general, can have potential health implications, the majority of severe health risks are associated with the combustion and inhalation of tobacco found in traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes and vapes are primarily nicotine delivery systems, and while not entirely risk-free, they are generally considered to be significantly less harmful than traditional cigarettes.
Notably, an increasing body of research supports the role of vaping devices as an effective tool for smoking cessation. Despite the FDA’s current stance, several studies have shown that e-cigarettes can be effective in helping smokers quit, and vaping has become an increasingly popular method for smokers trying to quit, especially when used in conjunction with other smoking cessation methods.
Visit www.vapemallow.com for a comprehensive collection of information and resources on vaping, including updates on the latest research, vaping devices, and more. This website offers valuable insights into the world of vaping, helping users make informed decisions about their nicotine consumption.
In conclusion, it is essential to approach the subject of vaping with a balanced perspective, considering both its potential risks and its value as a less harmful alternative to traditional smoking. As more data becomes available, it’s hoped that public health perspectives and policies will reflect the nuanced reality of vaping’s role in reducing the harmful impact of smoking.