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Nearly 1 in 5 adults used tobacco regularly in 2020

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released data showing that nearly 1 in 5 adults (19%) reported current tobacco use in 2020, a 1.8 percentage point decline from 2019. The 47 million adults still using tobacco products underscore the importance of promoting quit programs, as well as finalizing the removal of menthol cigarettes from the market and expanding clean-air policies, among other proven public health strategies to accelerate smoking declines.

Cigarettes were the most used tobacco product, at 12.5%, followed by e-cigarettes at 3.7%, cigars at 3.5%, smokeless products at 2.3%, and pipes and hookah at 1.1%. In 2020, current tobacco use was highest among certain groups, including those living in rural areas, low-income adults, LGBT adults, and those who reported regularly feeling depressed or anxious, highlighting persistent disparities that exist in tobacco use. Current tobacco use was also highest among 25-44-year-olds (22.9%), followed by 45-64-year-olds (20.4%), 18-24-year-olds (17.6%), and those age 65 and up (11.8%).

The prevalence of cigarette use – by far the most popular tobacco product among adults – emphasizes the need for the federal government to follow through on a ban on menthol cigarettes. In April 2021, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it would propose with a year a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. In January 2022, the FDA issued a statement that it’s on track to do this by spring 2022.

The relatively low rate of adult e-cigarette use, at 3.7%, underscores that young people remain the main users of e-cigarettes. The most recent data from the 2021 Monitoring the Future study showed that nearly 20% of high school seniors are current e-cigarette users, while 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey data showed that of the high school students who vaped nicotine, 43% did so on more than 20 out of the past 30 days.


Nearly 1 in 5 adults reported current tobacco use in 2020


Cigarettes were the most used tobacco product, at 12.5%

Quit resources that can help

The prevalence also highlights the need for quit-smoking tools to help the 47 million adults still using tobacco. BecomeAnEX is a free, digital quit-smoking plan and online community of smokers and ex-smokers developed by Truth initiative in collaboration with Mayo Clinic. Through BecomeAnEX, more than 910,000 people have developed skills and confidence to successfully quit smoking, and research has shown that following the program’s quit plan quadruples a tobacco user’s chance of quitting.

The EX Program is an enterprise offering expanded from BecomeAnEX for employers and health plans. Clients have access to real-time information about their members’ participation through web-based dashboards, enabling them to administer a tobacco cessation benefit more efficiently and engage their members more effectively. The EX Program is helping more than 9.7 million adults and is now available in Spanish across web, live chat, coaching, text message, email, and print.