U.S. smoking rate under 20 percent - 1st TIME..

November 14, 2008 - US smoking rate is under 20 percent for first time. The number of U.S. adults who smoke has dropped below 20 percent for the first time on record but cigarettes still kill almost half a million people a year, health officials said on Thursday, 11/13/2008.

About 19.8 percent of U.S. adults -- 43.4 million people -- were smokers in 2007. That was a percentage point below the 2006 figure and followed three years of little progress, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report..

The CDC said The economic burden of smoking in the United States hit $193 billion per year, including direct health care expenditures ($96 billion) and productivity losses ($97 billion).

US smoking rate is under 20 percent for first time, Reuters, 11/13/2008.