The rate of smoking among adults in the U.S. fell to 15 percent last year thanks to the biggest one-year decline in more than 20 years, according to a new government report.
The rate fell 2 percentage points from 2014, when about 17 percent of adults in a large national survey said they had recently smoked.
The smoking rate has been falling for decades, but it usually drops only 1 point or less in a year.
The last time there was a drop nearly as big was from 1992 to 1993, when the smoking rate fell 1.5 percentage points, according to Brian King of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC reported the new statistic. It’s based on a large national survey that is the government’s primary measuring stick for many health-related trends.
Smoking is the nation’s leading cause of preventable illness, causing more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States, the CDC estimates.
About 50 years ago, roughly 42 percent of U.S. adults smoked. It was common nearly everywhere — in office buildings, restaurants, airplanes and even hospitals. The smoking rate’s gradual decline has coincided with an increased public understanding that smoking is a cause of cancer, heart disease and other lethal health problems.
Experts attribute recent declines decline to the mounting impact of anti-smoking advertising campaigns, cigarette taxes and smoking bans. The increased marketing of vaping and their growing popularity has also played a role.