THURSDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Although the number of adult smokers in the United States declined slightly between 2005 and 2011, there was no significant change between 2010 and 2011, health officials said Thursday.
Smoking dipped from 20.9 percent to 19.3 percent of the U.S. population between 2005 and 2011, but in the last year the decline slowed to 19 percent. Almost 44 million adults still smoke, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the first time, the report gave details on the number of Americans with disabilities who smoke. In 2011, more than 25 percent of those with disabilities smoked, compared with about 17 percent of people without disabilities.
The report was published in the Nov. 9 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, shortly ahead of the American Cancer Society's Great Smokeout on Nov. 15. This annual event encourages smokers to plan to quit on that day or plan to quit permanently.
The largest decline in current smoking occurred among young adults aged 18 to 24, dropping from more than 24 percent to nearly 19 percent.
That was welcome news for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which released a statement from Matthew Myers, the advocacy group's president.
"This augurs well for future declines in adult smoking," Myers said. "The U.S. Surgeon General has found that nearly 90 percent of smokers start by age 18 and almost no one starts smoking after age 25, so these large reductions in youth and young adult smoking offer promise of greater adult smoking declines in the future."
But the overall smoking rate remains a problem, said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.
"We are making some progress, but the progress is slower than we need to see given how important the effect of smoking is on our nations' health," McAfee said.
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