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Genes May Make Quitting Tougher for Smokers
Date:12/2/2011

By Mary Brophy Marcus
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Despite decades of public health efforts aimed at snuffing out cigarette smoking, 20 percent of Americans still light up. New research suggests it might be because of their genes.

While anti-smoking campaigns are credited with slicing cigarette use drastically over the past 40 years -- from 42 percent of all Americans in 1965 to just under 20 percent in 2010 -- the number of people who haven't been able to nix their nicotine habit has flatlined in recent years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two out of three adults who smoke want to quit, a CDC report out earlier this month said, and more than half (52 percent) had attempted to quit in the past year.

The authors of the new study, released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of Demography, say new tactics may be needed to help the remaining smokers.

"Federal and social policies may be somewhat less effective now because maybe the composition of those at risk [those who smoke] has changed," said study co-author Fred Pampel, a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a research associate at the Institute of Behavioral Science there. Those who can quit easily have probably done so, the authors said.

Study lead author Jason Boardman, an associate professor of sociology, said anti-smoking messages, higher taxes and restrictions on smoking have made a difference. "But for hard-core smokers, there may be something else going on," he said. That "something else" is likely genetics, he added.

The researchers drew this conclusion after analyzing the smoking habits between 1960 and 1980 of nearly 600 pairs of twins who answered an extensive health questionnaire -- 363 were identical sets of twins and 233 were fraternal twins. Identical twins come from the same fertilized egg before it s
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