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Drop in smoking rate stalls

Federal Health officials reported that an 8-year decline in the smoking rate among the adults in the U.S. has flattened due to its halt at 21% in the last 2 years//.

According to the researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lack of drop in smoking among adolescents since 2002 is represented by the plateaus in smoking prevalence of 2004 and 2005.

"Preliminary data for 2006 appears to be consistent with those of 2004 and 2005," Terry Pechacek, associate director of science in the CDC's Office of Smoking and Health and an author of the report, said yesterday.

He said, "Factors such as smaller annual increases in the retail price of cigarettes and a nearly 27 percent cut in funding for comprehensive state tobacco control and prevention programs since 2002 contribute to the lack of progress in cutting smoking. "

The report is published in the recent issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). According to the figures from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey, which polled around 31,500 people aged 18 and above, of the 45.1 million American cigarette smokers, 81% smoke every day and 19% some days.

"The rate of decrease in cigarette smoking among adults is not sufficient to meet the [U.S. government's] 2010 objective of 12 percent, and rates of improvement are also not sufficient to meet the objectives for cigar smoking, use of smokeless tobacco, and attempts at smoking cessation," the authors concluded.

A federal program called Healthy People 2010 aims at bringing down the smoking rate to 12%. "Meanwhile, smoking remains the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States today, killing some 400,000 people annually, " Mr. Pechacek said.

According to the report, smoking rate is highest among American Indians and Alaskan Natives at 32%, and then come the non-Hispanic whites at 21.9% and non-Hispanic blacks at 21.5%. The smoking rate is 13.3% in Asians and 16.2% in Hispanics.

"Between late 1997 and 2003, cigarette prices doubled, which contributed to continued dips in smoking prevalence. But since 2003, prices have gone up very slowly; only by about 10 percent over the past couple of years," Mr. Pechacek said.

" However, tobacco industry advertising and promotional expenses, primarily aimed at providing rebates and discounted prices, more than doubled from $6.7 billion in 1998 to $15.1 billion in 2003," according to the report in MMWR.

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