"To help more smokers quit, it is critical that all private and government health plans provide affordable and accessible coverage for smoking-cessation medication and counseling, and that states use more of their tobacco revenues to properly fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs," he said.
States must also continue to enact policies that encourage quitting, including higher tobacco taxes and smoke-free air laws, Willmore said.
In a related move, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that most of the warning letters it recently sent to more than 1,200 tobacco retailers were about illegal sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to minors.
FDA inspections of tobacco retailers found that most are in compliance with the law, but some still sell tobacco products to youngsters. Retailers who continue to violate the law could face fines.
"It should worry every parent that 20 percent of U.S. high school students smoke cigarettes," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in an agency news release.
"For many young people, that first cigarette or use of smokeless tobacco will lead to a lifetime of addiction, and for many, serious disease," she said. "More than 80 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before 18 years of age. Retailers are vital partners in the FDA's efforts to prevent tobacco use among kids."
For more on quitting smoking, visit the Smokefree.gov.
SOURCES: Vince Willmore, vice-president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; Nov. 10, 2011, teleconference with: Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director, Office on Smoking and Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Nov. 11, 2011, CDC, Morb
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