The percentage of people who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day decreased significantly from 1965 to 2007 in the United States, according to a study in the March 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
There was also a decline in the number of people who smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day. The declines were more significant in California than the rest of the country, in part due to the state’s tough tobacco control programs, researchers concluded.
Before 1964, when the surgeon general first linked smoking and disease, Americans smoked an average of 1 pack — or 20 cigarettes — per day, the study shows. Researchers found that in 1965 “the prevalence of high intensity (20 or more cigarettes per day) of smoking among California adults did not differ from the remaining United States; prevalence of high-intensity smoking in California was 23.2 percent compared to 22.9 in the remaining United States, and these smokers represented 56 percent of all smokers,” reports Newswise, a research-reporting service. By 2007, this prevalence was 2.6 percent in California and 7.2 percent in the rest of the country. As smoking rates have declined, so, too, have lung cancer death rates. (Read more)