By the Numbers: Voter Views on Tobacco

Non-smoking teens are less likely to experience anxiety disorders and depression.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report that showed the rate of traditional cigarette smoking among U.S. adults fell nearly two percentage points to 15 percent in 2015, the biggest one-year decline in more than 20 years. While this is great news, there is still much work to be done to reduce tobacco use, particularly among youth. To gain insights into how American adults view issues related to smoking and tobacco use, in May 2016, we conducted a national poll of 2,001 registered voters in partnership with Morning Consult.

Tobacco Use Still Seen as a Problem

The majority of those polled (77 percent) view youth smoking as a problem, and 86 percent feel it’s important to reduce youth smoking rates. This belief was more pronounced among Americans aged 65 and older: 86 percent think youth smoking is a problem, compared to 73-77 percent of those aged 64 or younger. Those older than 65 are also less likely to smoke (11 percent) compared up to 38 percent of those in younger age groups reporting that they smoke.

While the smoking rate continues to decrease, access to smoke-free places continues to be a priority for many Americans. In fact, 37 percent of all respondents say they are so concerned with exposure to secondhand smoke they would exclusively seek out smoke-free locations when they leave their homes.

It’s Tough to Quit

Poll results revealed a troubling find: one in three of those polled say they use tobacco products primarily because they have had trouble quitting. In fact, this was the top reason those 45 and older gave for why they continue to smoke. For younger adults, consuming tobacco products is associated most with relieving stress.  Relaxation was identified by 55 percent of respondents under 30 years old as the main reason they smoke.

Supporting a Tobacco-Free Generation

Our poll results revealed that although youth smoking is generally seen as an important problem to solve, there are still gaps in the public’s knowledge about the problem. For example, compared with Caucasians, ethnic minorities are much less likely to know that e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes contain nicotine.

To broaden the public’s understanding of tobacco cessation and prevention, CVS Health created Be The First, a five-year, $50 million initiative to help deliver the first tobacco-free generation, and advance CVS Health’s broader commitment to helping people lead tobacco-free lives. Supported and funded by CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation, Be The First supports comprehensive education, advocacy, tobacco control and healthy behavior programming delivered by a group of national partner organization and directed at youth and young adults who use tobacco or are at risk of becoming tobacco users. To learn more about Be The First and find resources available to you help you quit smoking or prevent others from starting, visit