The CDC report says the smoking habit has been hardest to extinguish among several categories of U.S. adults, most notably, the poor.

Share story

About 17 percent of U.S. adults smoked cigarettes in 2014, about a 20 percent drop from the rate of adult smoking in 2005, according to figures released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That figure is the lowest since cigarette smoking has been tracked by the agency.

Among those who still smoke, the number of cigarettes smoked daily has fallen to 13.8, down from 16.7 in 2005, the CDC said.

In 1965, 42.4 percent of U.S. adults smoked, and though the habit’s prevalence has declined steadily, reducing the ranks of the addicted has become an increasingly uphill battle.

The CDC report says the smoking habit has been hardest to extinguish among several categories of U.S. adults, most notably, the poor. Only 12.9 percent of adults who have private health insurance continue to smoke cigarettes, but 29.1 percent of those on Medicaid, the federally funded insurance program for low-income Americans, were current smokers in 2014, the report said. Current smokers make up 27.9 percent of the uninsured.

Among adults who live below the federal poverty level of $19,790 in annual income for a family of three, the rate of smoking stood at 26.3 percent.

Smoking rates also remained particularly high — 43 percent — among those with a general-education-development certificate, or GED, and among those who identify as multiracial (27.9 percent) or American Indian or Alaska Native (29.2 percent). Those identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual also had higher rates of smoking: 23.9 percent in 2014.

Although Medicaid programs in all 50 states cover some tobacco-cessation treatments, only nine states cover individual and group counseling and all seven of the medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help people quit smoking. Washington is not among the nine states.