I answered that question on my blog a few years ago, saying it was:

Either 45.3 million or 52.7 million in 2010, depending on which federal agency does the counting. This wide variance [among adults 18+ years] of age underscores the discordant findings from government smoking data.

I wrote:

It is unacceptable that two federal surveys differ by over 7 million in their adult smoking counts. Even worse is the way the government uses the divergent data to spin different stories about smoking. They use the lower [National Health Interview Survey] numbers [43.5 million] to boast about declining smoking rates, which they attribute to higher taxes and smoking bans. They use the higher [National Survey on Drug Use and Health] numbers [52.7 million] to argue for even more onerous anti-tobacco measures.

The irregular counting continues today, and the discrepancy between NHIS and NSDUH is actually growing. Earlier this year, the CDC released its count for 2012, which is 42.1 million, based on NHIS. My analysis of the 2012 NSDUH, which is sponsored by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), indicates that there are at least 51.6 million adult smokers. That’s a difference of nearly 10 million smokers!

My research sheds light on this discrepancy. It’s time for the federal government to acknowledge their data conflict, and resolve it.

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