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Smoking Rate Increases Slightly in United States

About 20 percent of Americans smoke; previously, number of smokers had been declining

FRIDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The number of Americans who smoke increased slightly from 2007 to 2008, and the figure has hardly changed at all in the past five years, according to a report in the Nov. 13 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The report says the percentage of American smokers rose from 19.8 percent in 2007 to 20.6 percent in 2008. The actual number of smokers stayed fairly constant, at about 46 million. Over the longer term, smoking rates had declined; in 1998, 24.1 percent of Americans smoked.

The report blames the increase on state cutbacks to tobacco control programs. It points out that, from 2000 to 2009, states have received $203.5 billion in tobacco-related revenue, but that less than 3 percent of those funds have been earmarked for tobacco-prevention and smoking-cessation programs.

"Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and we know what to do," CDC director, Thomas Frieden, M.D., said in a statement. "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."

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