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While some progress was made in reducing the rate of smoking, disparities continued to persist. Rates of physical inactivity also worsened for many Americans.


Smoking is measured as the percentage of adults who reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smoke daily or some days. Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S., and a risk factor for severe illness from COVID-19.1, 2
Between 2011-2013 and 2017-2019, most subpopulation groups experienced a decline in rates of smoking. Rates of smoking declined 21% for college graduate and multiracial adults, 20% for Black adults, and 19% for white adults. Despite this progress, wide disparities persisted. In 2017-2019, rates of smoking were nearly four times higher for American Indian/Alaska Native adults (29.0%), three times higher for multiracial adults (23.0%) and two times higher for Black adults (17.8%) compared to Asian/Pacific Islander adults (8.1%). Those with less than a high school education (25.9%) had a four times higher rate of smoking than college graduate adults (6.3%).

Physical Inactivity

Between 2011-2013 and 2017-2019, most subpopulation groups experienced an increase in rates of physical inactivity, with increases highest for males, adults with less than a high school education, and Black adults. Disparities in physical inactivity were particularly notable by education. In 2017-2019, rates of physical inactivity were three times higher for adults with less than a high school education (42.7%) than college graduate adults (14.1%).

[1] CDC. (2021 May). Smoking & Tobacco Use: Fast Facts.
[2] CDC. (2021 May). COVID-19: Medical Conditions.

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