Quitting Smoking

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In 2016, 53.4% of adult smokers attempted to quit smoking within the past year.

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Introduction

Quitting smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. Quitting smoking dramatically reduces the risk of lung and other cancers, coronary heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung disease. For example, 10 years after a person quits smoking, his or her risk of lung cancer is decreased to about one-third to one-half of that of a person who continues to smoke; with continued abstinence from smoking, the risk of lung cancer decreases even further.

Although quitting smoking is beneficial at any age, the earlier in life a person quits, the more likely it is that he or she will avoid the devastating health effects of continued tobacco use. Few smokers can quit successfully on their first attempt; most people will require several attempts before they are able to permanently quit. This emphasizes the need for smokers to begin trying to quit as early in life as possible.

Measure

Attempt to quit: The percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted smoking cessation within the past 12 months. The attempt-to-quit measure includes both current smokers who smoke every day or some days and who, at the time of the survey, had quit smoking for at least 1 day during the past 12 months, as well as recent former smokers, who quit smoking less than 1 year ago.

Successful quitting:  The percentage of recent smoking cessation success for adult smokers (aged 18 years and older)  includes two conditions that define successful cessation. If a survey participant satisfied both of the following criteria, they were only included once in the calculation.

  1. Former smokers who had quit smoking 6-12 months prior to the survey interview.
  2. Former smokers who had initiated smoking at least 2 years prior to the survey interview and who quit smoking any time during the past 12 months.

Healthy People 2020 Target

  • Increase to 80 percent the proportion of adult current smokers (aged 18 years and older) who stopped smoking for a day or longer because they were trying to quit.
  • Increase to 8 percent the proportion of adult smokers (aged 18 years and older) who successfully quit smoking for at least 6 months in the past 12 months.
  • Healthy People 2020 is developing two additional targets to promote smoking cessation using evidence-based strategies. These developmental targets include one to increase smoking cessation attempts by adult smokers using evidence-based strategies (TU-4.2) and one to increase recent smoking cessation success by adult smokers using evidence-based strategies (TU-5.2).

Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Note: Goals are indicated as blue line on Detailed Trend Graphs.

Data Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey 1998-2016.

Trends and Most Recent EstimatesHelp with navigating the graphs and data tables

Attempted to Quit Smoking

By Sex
Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by sex, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by sex, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 53.4 51.4 - 55.3
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 51.8 49.0 - 54.6
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 55.0 52.6 - 57.5
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by race/ethnicity, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by race/ethnicity, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 53.4 51.4 - 55.3
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 51.1 49.1 - 53.2
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 63.6 58.5 - 68.4
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 57.4 49.8 - 64.7
By Age
Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by age, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by age, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints Ages 18-24Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 18-24 63.3 56.1 - 69.9
Ages 25 and olderClick to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 25 and older 52.1 50.2 - 54.0
By Sex and Age
Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by age and sex, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by age and sex, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints Males, Ages 18-24Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, Ages 18-24 61.0 50.6 - 70.5
Males, Ages 25+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, Ages 25+ 50.4 47.6 - 53.2
Females, Ages 18-24Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, Ages 18-24 66.7 59.1 - 73.6
Females, Ages 25+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, Ages 25+ 53.9 51.2 - 56.5
By Poverty Income Level
Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by poverty income level, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adult smokers aged 18 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by poverty income level, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints <200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for <200% of federal poverty level 52.9 49.9 - 55.9
>=200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for >=200% of federal poverty level 54.0 51.4 - 56.5
By Education Level
Percentage of adult smokers aged 25 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by highest level of education obtained, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of adult smokers aged 25 years and older who attempted to stop smoking for one day or longer in the past year by highest level of education obtained, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints Less than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Less than High School 54.0 49.3 - 58.5
High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for High School 49.0 45.8 - 52.3
Greater than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Greater than High School 53.5 51.1 - 55.9

Successfully Quit Smoking

By Sex
Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by sex, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by sex, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 7.6 6.7 - 8.7
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 7.5 6.3 - 9.1
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 7.6 6.3 - 9.2
By Race/Ethnicity
Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by race/ethnicity, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by race/ethnicity, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints All RacesClick to see the detailed trend graph for All Races 7.6 6.7 - 8.7
Non-Hispanic WhiteClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic White 7.5 6.5 - 8.7
Non-Hispanic BlackClick to see the detailed trend graph for Non-Hispanic Black 6.1 4.0 - 9.2
HispanicClick to see the detailed trend graph for Hispanic 9.6 6.2 - 14.5
By Age
Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by age, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by age, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints Ages 18-24Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 18-24 11.0 7.1 - 16.8
Ages 25 and olderClick to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 25 and older 7.0 6.2 - 8.0
By Sex and Age
Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by age and sex, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by age and sex, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints Males, Ages 18-24Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, Ages 18-24 10.2 6.1 - 16.6
Males, Ages 25+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Males, Ages 25+ 6.8 5.6 - 8.2
Females, Ages 18-24Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, Ages 18-24 11.5 5.7 - 21.7
Females, Ages 25+Click to see the detailed trend graph for Females, Ages 25+ 7.3 6.1 - 8.8
By Poverty Income Level
Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by poverty income level, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 18 years and older by poverty income level, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints <200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for <200% of federal poverty level 5.8 4.6 - 7.2
>=200% of federal poverty levelClick to see the detailed trend graph for >=200% of federal poverty level 9.2 7.7 - 10.9
By Education Level
Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 25 years and older by highest level of education obtained, 1998-2016
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2016)
Percent of adult smokers 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of recent smoking cessation success among adult smokers aged 25 years and older by highest level of education obtained, 1998-2016 click for more details and datapoints Less than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Less than High School 5.8 3.3 - 9.8
High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for High School 4.8 3.7 - 6.1
Greater than High SchoolClick to see the detailed trend graph for Greater than High School 8.8 7.5 - 10.4

Evidence-based Resources

Evidence-based intervention programs are available on the Research-tested interventions (RTIPs) website that promote smoking cessation and provide guidance to quit.

Additional Information on Quitting Smoking

For the public

For health professionals

Scientific reports

Statistics

For smokers

Year Range

1998-2016

Recent Summary Trend Year Range

2012-2016

Summary Tables

Clinicians' Advice to Quit Smoking

Recent Summary Trend

Rising

Desired Direction

Rising