Cigarette smoking is associated with numerous chronic illnesses and premature death. In 2003, 60.4 million people aged 12 and older smoked cigarettes within the past month. Nearly one out of every four adult women smoked cigarettes in the past month, representing 26.6 million women aged 18 or older. For both women and men, smoking cigarettes often begins in adolescence and increases in prevalence among the young adult population. Among females, in 2003 the rate of cigarette smoking was 12.5 percent among 12-17 year-olds, 36.2 percent among 18-25 year-olds, and 22.1 percent among those aged 26 and older. While adult women (aged 18 and older) were less likely than men to have smoked in the previous month (24.1 percent compared to 30.1 percent), smoking was slightly more common among adolescent girls than among their male peers (12.5 percent of females compared to 11.9 percent of males in the 12-17 age group). While women in all racial and ethnic groups are less likely to smoke while they are pregnant, 25.0 percent of non-Hispanic White women smoked during pregnancy, more than 3 times the rate among Hispanic women.

Graph: Persons Reporting Past Month Cigarette Use by Age and Sex[d]

Graph: Persons Reporting Past Month Cigarette Use by Race/Ethnicity and Pregnancy Status[d]