While three out of four Americans believe cigarette smoking causes health problems, the number of people in the United States who agree that the health risk from smoking a pack or more per day is “great” dropped by 1 percent from 2006 to 2015. According to researchers, reporting in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, this percentage represents more than 3 million people.
Using statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, found that, so far, this decline in perceived risk has not caused more people to become smokers: 15.1 percent of American smoked in 2015, compared to 20.8 percent in 2006. But it could signal a slowing of the progress against smoking.
The Duke team relied on the responses of more than 559,000 people over age 12 to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an in-home survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration since the 1970s. They were most interested in this specific question: "How much do people risk harming themselves physically and in other ways when they smoke one or more packs of cigarettes per day?" "No risk," "slight risk," "moderate risk," or "great risk." Additionally, the number of people surveyed who said smoking poses no risk increased from 1.45 percent to 2.63 percent during the study period.