Smokers decreasing packs a day, annual Gallup poll finds

By Mandy Morgan

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 15 2012 5:02 p.m. MDT

In this Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011 photo, an employee at Island Smokes demonstrates how to make cigarettes using a machine in New York. The annual Gallup poll to monitor smoking patterns and attitudes found that only 1 percent of U.S. smokers say they smoke more than on pack of cigarettes a day and that 88 percent of smokers want to quit.

Seth Wenig, file, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Smoking Americans are smoking less than ever before. In fact, 68 percent of tobacco users are smoking less than one pack of cigarettes a day each, according to a Gallup poll released this week.

Only 1 percent smokes more than a pack a day. Both of these findings set records among Gallup's findings since 1944.

About 31 percent report smoking one pack a day, a fairly consistent number throughout the years.

The poll also found that nearly nine smokers out of 10 — 88 percent — say they would not have started smoking if they could go back and start over. This is up from 83 percent in 1990, the first time Gallup asked the question.

The statistics that 10 percent said they would go back and do it again has gradually decreased from 12 percent back in 2001.

"It is possible that the decline in reports of smoking is the result of respondents' awareness that smoking is socially undesirable," Alyssa Brown said in the release. "Respondents may aim to present themselves in the best possible light to the interviewer and underestimate the amount they truly smoke."

However, with the social pressure and, more specifically, new campaigns to inform about the harms of smoking, the number of smokers in the U.S. is declining. According to Gallup polls, less than half of U.S. smokers smoked less than one pack of cigarettes each day before 1999.

The Centers for Disease Control, with the help of the U.S. government, generated a number of anti-smoking ads so successful that new ads are on the way, according to a Deseret News article. The ads featured past smokers now living with smoking-related diseases, including Terrie Hall who had her voice box removed and is still undergoing treatment for cancer.

"I am excited about the possibilities," Hall said in an interview with CNN when the ads were first released. "The numbers of lives this campaign can save is overwhelming."

The point of the CDC ad campaign is to not just to inspire people to quit instantly; it's to make the dangers of smoking more well known. According to the CDC, around 1,200 Americans die every day due to smoking related diseases. Their ads are showing the effects of smoking with stories from people living and dealing with those diseases to make a point.

Another release from the same annual Gallup poll in said 20 percent of adults say they smoked a cigarette "in the past week," down from 22 percent last year, but matching the all-time low set in 2009.

Though the number of adults smoking in the U.S. has decreased overall, 68 percent — more than two-thirds — of those who are smoking say they are addicted, up from 63 percent in 2011.

The results came from the annual Gallup consumption poll in July, which is taken to measure the smoking behavior and attitudes of Americans.

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