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Decline in Adult Smoking Stalls, Alarming Experts
Date:9/8/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Although the hazards of smoking are well known, 20 percent of Americans still light up, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

The number of adult smokers dropped between 2000 and 2005, but the decline has leveled out, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"The 40-year decline in tobacco in the United States has stalled," CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said during an early afternoon press conference.

"Between 2005 and 2009 there was no further reduction in tobacco use," he said. And despite progress nearly 90 million American non-smokers are exposed to toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke."

Frieden laid the blame for the stalled smoking decline on the doorstep of the tobacco industry.

"The industry has gotten even better at sidestepping laws designed to get people to stop smoking," he said. "They ensure that every cigarette they sell is designed to deliver nicotine quickly and efficiently to keep people addicted."

In addition, the industry uses marketing techniques to get children to start smoking. And they create new products that get around laws to attract new smokers, Frieden said.

More men (24 percent) than women (18 percent) were smoking in 2009, says the report, which also found that people with less education and lower incomes were more likely than others to smoke.

Thirty-one percent of smokers live below the poverty level, and 25 percent never graduated from high school compared with 6 percent of those with graduate degrees, the report says.

Moreover, secondhand smoke remains a serious problem for 88 million nonsmokers. For example, 54 percent of children aged 3 to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke, and 98 percent of kids living with a smoker have measurable levels of toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke, the report says.

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