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Great American Smokeout Is Thursday
Date:11/15/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The American Cancer Society launches its annual Great American Smokeout event Thursday as anti-smoking advocates push to reverse a slowdown in the decline of tobacco use in the United States.

The percentage of high-school students who smoke cigarettes has flattened over the past few years after a rapid fall in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among adults, the percentage of cigarette smokers has hovered around 19 percent to 21 percent since 2004.

"We've seen a bit of a stall," said Dave Dobbins, chief operating officer of the American Legacy Foundation, an anti-smoking organization that was created by a 1999 settlement between the federal government and tobacco companies.

At the same time, though, people who do smoke are smoking less, said Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends and international cancer control at the American Cancer Society.

"Today, 60 percent of smokers are smoking less than a pack a day, and it was the reverse 10 years ago: 60 percent were smoking a pack or more a day," he said. "Smoking isn't a problem that's solved ... but we've certainly made progress."

Glynn attributes the decline in the number of cigarettes smoked to efforts to boost the price of cigarettes and make it harder to find places to smoke. "They don't want to spend as much, and they don't want to stand outside in the cold to smoke," he said.

So why isn't the number of smokers continuing to dip at a rapid clip? Dobbins suspects that the intense anti-smoking efforts prompted by the 1999 settlement reached the "low-hanging fruit" -- the people easiest to persuade.

Certain groups of Americans are especially likely to smoke and may be harder to reach. The most recent CDC statistics, from 2010, found that almost a third of Native Americans smoke cigarettes, a
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