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U.S. Lung Cancer Rates Continue to Drop: CDC

Cigarette tax hikes, no-smoking policies contribute to decline, experts say
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For example, there was a surge in the number of girls who started smoking in the 1970s, which was fueled by targeted advertising by the tobacco companies. This increase is reflected by the lack of decline in lung cancer among women aged 45 to 54, who were teens during that time, Siegel said.

Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior medical adviser to the American Lung Association, commented: "We are continuing to win the war, but there is a whole lot more to be done."

Edelman said more money needs to be spent by the states on tobacco control programs. "There are very few states that are spending a significant amount of money on tobacco control," he pointed out.

In 2010, states used only 2.4 percent of the millions they receive in tobacco revenues for tobacco control, according to the CDC.

To target people who continue to smoke, Edelman thinks a variety of approaches are needed. "The most effective thing is simply increasing the cost. One solution would be a substantial increase of the federal tax on cigarettes," he suggested.

Most people who smoke want to quit, but it's hard and often takes several tries, so more effort is needed to make smoking cessation programs available, Edelman added.

Edelman also believes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs more power over tobacco companies.

This month is the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General's report linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer, Edelman noted.

"Over that time, we have saved many millions of lives and we have reduced the smoking rate from about 40 percent to about 20 percent -- we ought to celebrate the victory, but recognize there is a way to go," he said.

According to the CDC report, the most rapid decline in lung cancer rates was among adults aged 35 to 44. Men in this age group saw a decrease of 6.5 percent a year, while women saw a 5.8 percent decrease.

In all age groups, lung cancer rates dropped faster among men than among women, the researchers found.

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