Coupled with the reductions in spending for tobacco cessation programs in many states, this industry funding keeps the decline among smokers creeping along very slowly, McAfee noted. If these non-smoking programs were fully funded, there would be a much more rapid decline in smoking, he suggested.
Also making it more difficult to quit are changes in cigarettes themselves, Frieden said. The CDC has found that "the industry has been able to change the way nicotine is inhaled and absorbed. So it is possible that the cigarette today may be even more addictive than 10 or 20 years ago," he explained.
"We have seen an increase in what is called free-nicotine, or essentially 'crack' nicotine, available for very rapid absorption through the lungs," Frieden added.
Phillip Morris USA said in a statement released Tuesday that it agrees with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking is addictive. "It can be very difficult to quit smoking, but this should not deter smokers who want to quit from trying to do so," the company said. "We support a single, consistent public health message on the role of cigarette smoking in the development of disease in smokers, and on smoking and addiction."
The cigarette maker also noted in its statement that it had actively supported legislation for more than eight years that provides tough but reasonable federal regulation of tobacco products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The CDC researchers found that smoking rates varied by region, with more smokers in the Midwest (21.8 percent) and South (21 percent) than in other regions of the country.
Referring to the decline in smokers nationwide, Frieden said, "3 million fewer smokers is a very significant finding. About half of all smokers will be
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