Health Leaders Predict Smoke Free America By 2050

Franque Thompson

OMAHA (KPTM)- Health leaders predict smoking cigarettes could come to an end in America by the year 2050.

The habit usually starts a young age.

"Mainly it starts with the teenage smokers because it's a supposedly cool thing to be doing when you're in high school with the peer pressure of others," said teen, Stephen Mullen.

With the smoking rate going down more and more, new reports and predictions from the U.S. Surgeon General said America could be smoke free by 2050. The report states the adult smoking rate could drop to 10 percent in the next decade and decline more to 5 percent or less by 2050.

Health leaders said that's a step in the right direction--especially for young people.

"Cigarettes are so harsh on your lungs and so addictive that smoking other things would probably be more enjoyable and better on your health," said teen, Vayda Kirshman.

Health leaders said the decline in cigarette use comes from smokers having more tobacco free options, like marijuana and e-cigarettes, smoking bans at restaurants and other public places, aggressive anti-smoking advertising, and increases in cigarette taxes.

Nebraska's cigarette tax is 64 cents per pack, the 38th highest in the country. The national average is $1.53. Advocates in Nebraska want the tax to be even higher in an effort for smokers to kick the habit.

"When you hit an individual where it hurts, in their pocket, no matter what type of habit you have those habits tend to decrease," said Michael Robinson of the Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition.

"We don't get a lot of money anyways and all of our expenses go to other things. So, buying cigarettes and other substances are kind of not as high priority as everything else," said Kirshman.

The U.S. Surgeon General report also states cigarette sales are also changing. Last week, CVS Pharmacies announced it will no longer be selling cigarettes in its store. The report states this is another example why smoking is decreasing.