The Latest Stats About Epilepsy from the CDC: 1 in 4 Adults with Epilepsy Smoke Cigarettes

Quit Smoking Today

Find Resources to Quit:

  • Learn about the latest data about epilepsy and smoking from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Find out why smoking hurts people with epilepsy
  • Manage your smoking cravings
  • Get resources to quit

Epilepsy News From:

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

In a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in the article, "Prevalence and Trends in Cigarette Smoking Among Adults with Epilepsy — United States, 2010-2017" that 1 in 4 adults living with epilepsy currently smoke cigarettes. This is higher than those without epilepsy, which is 1 in 6 adults. 

1 in 4 adults with epilepsy currently smoke cigarettes

What’s worse? The report found people with active epilepsy are not giving up smoking at the same rate as the general population.

More Data from the Report

For this report, a person was defined as having active epilepsy if they reported having epilepsy diagnosed by a doctor and one or both of the following:

  1. Taking anti-seizure medication
  2. Having one or more seizures in the past year

A person was defined as having inactive epilepsy if they reported a history of epilepsy but:

  • Were not taking medication for epilepsy
  • Had not had a seizure in the past year

Smoking Prevalence for Active Epilepsy

  • Current cigarette smoking prevalence was higher among adults with active epilepsy than among those:
    • With no history of epilepsy overall and for both men and women
    • Adults aged 35-54 or 55-64 years
    • Non-Hispanic Whites and other non-Hispanic adults
    • Adults with <12 years or >12 years of education
    • Adults with family income <100% or  >300% of the federal poverty level
    • Adults with health insurance
    • Unemployed adults
    • Adults living in the Northeast, the Midwest, or the South
  • For adults living without serious psychological distress, smoking was higher among those with active epilepsy than it was among adults without epilepsy.

Smoking Prevalence for Inactive Epilepsy

  • Current cigarette smoking prevalence among adults with inactive epilepsy was higher than among:
    • Adults with no history of epilepsy for any age group
    • Adults with <12 years or >12 years of education
    • Adults with family income <100% or  >300% of the federal poverty level
    • Both the uninsured and the insured
    • The employed and the retired
    • Those in other employment categories (like students)
    • Those residing in all U.S. regions
  • For adults living without serious psychological distress, smoking was higher among those with inactive epilepsy than it was among adults without epilepsy.

What does this mean?

It means during the four years people with epilepsy were surveyed (2010, 2013, 2015, 2017), 1 in 4 adults with active or inactive epilepsy currently smoked cigarettes. More importantly, it means if you smoke and have epilepsy, you need to quit today.

1 in 4 adults with epilepsy smoking cigarettes is too many. 

Learn about why quitting is so important for your health and how to get resources to quit.

Smoking Cigarettes is the Leading Cause of Preventable Death

  • Smoking leads to disease and harms almost every single organ in the body.
  • More than 16 million Americans live with a disease caused by smoking.
  • Smoking kills people with epilepsy. One out of every 5 deaths in America each year is caused by cigarette smoking. 
  • If someone with epilepsy falls or loses consciousness or awareness while smoking, the lit cigarette may burn themselves, someone else, or cause a fire.
  • Smoking doesn’t just hurt you, but also those around you. Watch this video with Nathan M., who died at 54 due to complications related to secondhand smoke inhalation. 

For you. For your family. For those around you. Commit to quitting today.

Managing Triggers: It’s Not Just for Seizures

People with epilepsy need to know their triggers to manage and control their seizures. If a seizure happens, they have a Seizure Action Plan. When it comes to quitting smoking, having a plan helps too.

To manage your cravings, it’s important to know your craving triggers and have a plan to respond to them. CDC has resources on how to prepare for cravings.

Beatrice shares how she managed her triggers to help her quit smoking.

Just like your fight with epilepsy, you are not alone. There are resources that can help you quit.

Resources to Quit

The Epilepsy Foundation wants you safe and healthy. There are resources at to help you quit smoking. Make your quit plan today. 

Before starting any new medications to help you quit, talk to your health care provider to discuss any interactions they may have with your seizures or anti-seizure medications.

  • Call:
    • English: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
    • Spanish: 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569)
    • Mandarin and Cantonese: 1-800-838-8917
    • Vietnamese: 1-800-778-8440
  • Learn About Quit-Smoking Medicines: Talk to your health care provider before starting any new medications.
  • Text QUIT to 47848: Join a free 6-8 week program (depending on your quit date) to help you quit smoking. 
  • quitSTARTappThe quitSTARTapp is a free smartphone app that helps you quit smoking with tailored tips, inspiration, and challenges.

You’re not alone. There is help for you. 

Thank you to the CDC Epilepsy Program for sharing this report. The Epilepsy Foundation will continually promote resources that can help you or someone you love quit smoking.

More Resources

Authored by: Liz Duewek MPH on 11/2020

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The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

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