US smokers lighting up less

Smokers in the United States are lighting up less than ever, according to a new Gallup poll.

The percentage of U.S. heavy smokers has dropped significantly since the late 1970s, and has reached an all-time low this year.

Only 1 percent of U.S. smokers say they smoke more than one pack of cigarettes per day, while 68 percent smoke less than a pack a day, each a record in Gallup trends dating to 1944.

The percentage of smokers who reported smoking more than a pack a day has declined in recent decades—it peaked at 30 percent in 1978, and has been falling since.

The percentage of one-pack-a-day smokers—now at 31 percent—has stayed relatively constant.

The findings are from Gallup's annual consumption poll, conducted July 9-12, which measures Americans’ smoking behavior and attitudes.

Gallup notes it’s possible that the decline in reports of smoking is the result of respondents’ awareness that smoking is socially undesirable, and therefore, respondents may have presented themselves in the best possible light, underestimating the amount they truly smoke.

Regardless, most smokers say they want to give up the addiction: Nearly eight in 10 smokers say they want to quit. And 88 percent said if they could do it over again, they wouldn’t have started smoking—up slightly from 83 percent in 1990, the first time Gallup asked the question.

Still, it doesn’t mean smokers aren’t addicted to cigarettes. More than two-thirds (68 percent) say they are; generally that number has stayed pretty high for years.

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