Number Of Americans Who Smoke Goes Down - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Number Of Americans Who Smoke Goes Down

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MISSOULA -

The percentage of Americans who smoke tobacco products is down more than 50% since the 1960's, leading to a decline in the number of lung cancer deaths.

Those numbers come from the American Cancer Society, as it gets ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first landmark report on tobacco use and health. Experts say more than 43 million Americans are still using tobacco, with some adding they've found a safer alternative to fill the habit.

Richard Pockrandt opened The Vaper Trail several months ago, after he found electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes in Missoula were a successful way to quit smoking.

"My health was really stating to suffer, because of it. I couldn't get out and hike, and my friend turned me on to vaporing," Pockrandt said.

The Vaper Trail is a specialty store which sells only e-cigarettes. These are battery-powered cigarettes that give users their nicotine fill with a liquid that vaporizes rather than burns.

"It's just a much cleaner way of being able to get your nicotine, and get off your cigarettes," Pockrandt said.

While the product works for some, health experts say there's too little data on e-cigarettes to be certain they're much healthier than a typical cigarette.

"We have to be very skeptical until we have the data that these e-cigarettes are going to help," said Community Medical Center Cancer Specialist, Patrick Beatty, MD, PHD.

What health experts do know is more and more people are starting to quit smoking, because of public policies, and prevention marketing campaigns. They said the percentage of American adults who smoke is cut by more than half since the first Surgeon General's report on tobacco and health was released in 1964. It was the first report to link smoking to lung cancer.

"Lung cancer rates are coming down, and they'll hopefully continue to come down as smoking rates continue to decrease," Beatty said.

Numbers form the American Cancer Society show lung cancer is coming down in both men and women. Doctors said these rates were up in the 1960's for men, and years later for women, because of marketing adds directed at those demographics.

"Public health is complicated. Its not just bad things are out there, but sometimes public policy can help," Beatty said.

While experts focus on public policy to prevent lung cancer, others focus on alternative methods of smoking.

"I breathe better, I don't get headaches, I would definitely say they're better for you than normal cigarettes," Pockrandt said.

Since the Surgeon General Report was released, the percentage of Americans who smoke has gone down from more than 40% in 1964 to 20% today.

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