CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WDEF)- There's a new national health survey.
It shows the percentage of smokers has dropped to its lowest level ever.
But, there's still the culture of smoking in some parts of the country, especially the south.
The survey shows a surprising number for Hamilton county.
(CBS NEWS REPORT) "Smoking kills 443-thousand Americans each year..."
The message apparently is getting out to smokers.
That CBS news program was from last year, at the beginning of a graphic all-out campaign to get Americans to stop using tobacco.
It may be working because a national health survey shows the percentage of smokers in the United States has to dropped to 18 percent in the latest figures available.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States.
It's responsible for the majority of lung cancer deaths and is a deadly factor in heart attacks and a variety of other illnesses.
And, its expensive.
DR. JOHN LAPOOK, CBS NEWS "Currently cigarette smoking costs Americans nearly a 100 billion dollars in health care costs every year."
But here's a fact that most people did not see coming right here in Chattanooga.
PAULA COLLIER, HAMILTON CO. HEALTH DEPT. TOBACCO PREVENTION COORDINATOR "We're actually doing a little bit better than the national average. In Hamilton county, 17% of teens smoke, and 15% of adults."
Hamilton county/Chattanooga numbers are now lower than the Tennessee state average of 20, and under the 18% national figure.
Businesses can take some of the credit for the better showing.
PAULA COLLIER "If a business has a good sound policy where nobody's smoking, nobody takes smoke breaks, no social support of this smoking behavior..then everyone is much more likely to be successful."
A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health officials are analyzing the 2012 findings and have not yet determined exactly why the rate dropped after holding around 20% for so many years. "
The Hamilton County Health Department will put citizens in touch with a Stop Smoking program if they want assistance.