THURSDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the known dangers of smoking, about 20 percent of Americans still light up, but almost 70 percent want to quit, a new government report shows.
"This study is reassuring to us," Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a noon press conference Thursday.
There was a concern that there was a group of smokers who would remain smokers and not be interested in quitting, but, "in fact, what this study shows is quite the opposite," McAfee said.
The percentage of smokers appears to hover around 20 percent as people take up the habit, he said. "But there has been a decline in the last five years in the rate of smoking, and smokers are actually smoking less," he added.
"Perhaps the most dangerous situation we are in is we have seen over the past five years a flattening of the downward trend in youth initiation. We are very worried that there are a number of things that have been happening in terms of tobacco industry marketing techniques that affect youth," McAfee said.
The report was published in the Nov. 11 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
According to the report, 68.8 percent of current smokers say they want to quit and 52.4 percent tried to quit during the past year.
In addition, 48.3 percent of smokers who saw their doctor in the past year say they got advice to quit. Moreover, 31.7 percent had counseling alone or with drugs to help them quit in the past year. And about 6 percent quit successfully in the past year.
McAfee noted that most smokers who manage to quit do so without the help of drugs or counseling. "About 20 percent of people take medication or sign up for counseling," he said.
Other factors that are equated with quitting are education, where 11 percent of those with a co
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