Gallup Poll: ‘Pack-a-Day’ Smokers Now At All-Time Low

Alex Grubbs | August 10, 2016 | 12:06pm EDT
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(AP photo)


( – A new Gallup poll has found that the percentage of “pack-a-day” smokers in the U.S. is now at an all-time low of 26 percent, far down from its peak at 65 percent in 1978.

Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll conducted last month asked survey participants: “About how many cigarettes do you smoke a day?”

Only 26 percent of respondents said they lit up a pack or more of cigarettes daily.

“The decline in the percentage of heavy smokers somewhat mirrors a long-term decline in the overall percentage of Americans who smoke,” Gallup noted.

 The number of “pack-a-day” smokers have been on the decline for decades, according to the pollster. Although 59 percent of smokers smoked a pack or more a day in the mid-‘90s, that percentage had fallen to 30 percent by 2012.

Gallup also found that just 19 percent of Americans reported smoking in the week before the survey, the lowest percentage since the 1940s.

“Public health officials have reason to be encouraged by record lows in both the percentage of Americans who smoke and the percentage of heavy smokers,” Gallup stated.

Gallup attributed anti-smoking laws and regulations to the gradual decline of smoking in America.

In June, California raised the legal age to purchase and smoke cigarettes from 18 to 21.

On August 1, Pennsylvania hiked its cigarette sale taxes last week by $1 - from $1.40 to $2.40 per pack - while in Philadelphia, the tax is now $4.60 per pack.

Seventy-four percent of smokers told pollsters that they wished they could give up smoking.

Both in 2013 and again in 2016, 39 percent of smokers admitted they attempted to quit once or twice, while 43 percent said they made more than two attempts to stop smoking, according to Gallup.

Of the 25 percent who claim to be former smokers, about 60 percent said they quit smoking in one or two tries. The other 40 percent said they managed to quit after a few attempts.

Gallup pointed out that the fact that many former smokers quit in only one or two attempts “underscores the dilemma public health officials face when trying to further reduce the smoking rate.”

It also attributed acute nicotine addiction to people who continue to smoke despite the well-known health risks.

“Though a strong majority of Americans who used to smoke were successful at quitting in their first or second attempt, four in 10 current smokers have tried to quit more than twice and still have not been able to,” Gallup stated. “While tobacco may be a substance that is easy for many Americans to stop using, it's a heavier lift for the majority who still use it.”

The Gallup U.S. Daily poll results are based on telephone interviews conducted July 13th to 17th with a random sample of 1,023 adults aged 18 and older who live in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The poll has a 4 percent margin of error.

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