Except for a brief uptick in 2008 and 2009, the rate of smoking among U.S. adults continues its long-term downward trend. The latest figures show that only 18% of adults are current smokers, down from 24.7% just 15 years ago.

Researchers believe that a number of factors are contributing to the decline. Cost is one – research shows that as the cost of cost of cigarettes goes up, rates of smoking go down. Public policies that create smoke-free workplaces, restaurants, and even outdoor parks are taking their toll, too. Although such policies don’t actually require that smokers quit or even smoke less, they tend to create a culture in which smoking is discouraged, rather than encouraged. Advertisements, particularly those that educate people about the marketing efforts of tobacco companies (getting people to dislike tobacco companies) or that show in graphic detail some of the devastating effects of smoking also may be contributing to the decline in smoking, at least among adults.

Will we ever get the rate of smoking down below, say, 5%? Not anytime soon, apparently. One group that does not seem to be very amenable to anti-smoking educational programs is kids. Getting them to never start smoking in the first place has proven to be a tough nut to crack.

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