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Progress in Stamping Out Smoking Has Stalled
Date:11/12/2009

1 in 5 Americans still smoke, CDC says, and numbers haven't moved in last 5 years

THURSDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- After decades of progress, the number of Americans who smoke hasn't budged over the last five years and actually rose slightly from 2007 to 2008, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the longer term, smoking rates have declined. From 1998 to 2008, the percentage of smokers in the United States dropped from 24.1 to 20.6 percent.

However, the report notes that "during the past five years, rates have shown virtually no change," and in fact the percentage of Americans who smoke has begun to creep up again, rising from 19.8 percent in 2007 to 20.6 percent in 2008.

Many experts blame the turnaround on recent cutbacks in funding for state tobacco-control programs, which had proven successful.

"Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and we know what to do," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC director. "We want to provide support to states and localities to implement proven programs, and if we do that, we can save literally millions of lives in the decades to come."

The report is published in the Nov. 13 edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report, and arrives just before the American Cancer Society's annual quit-smoking day, the Great American Smokeout, set for Nov. 19.

According to the report, from 2007 to 2008 the number of Americans who smoked remained constant, at about 46 million. Smokers were more likely to be male (23.1 percent) than female (18.3 percent).

The majority of smokers are people who did not graduate from high school, and the lowest rates are among those with a college graduate degree, the report found.

Asian Americans had the lowest smoking rates (9.9 percent), and American Indians and Alaskan Natives had the highest (32.4 percent), the r
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