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U.S. Smoking Rate Drops Below 20 Percent

NATIONAL REPORT -- Local and federal government efforts to thwart smoking have apparently worked.

The number of Americans who smoke cigarettes finally dipped below 20 percent, a "milestone" breakthrough, according to a report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In 2012, 18.1 percent of Americans smoked, a drop from a smoking rate that hovered close to 20 percent for several years, the CDC reported.

"This is a milestone," report co-author Brian King told HealthDay. "We have seen a steady decline in recent years and so, the stall is no longer occurring. But the progress is still not as strong as we would hope."

A few factors likely contributed to this latest decline in cigarette smoking, King noted. One positive factor was the 2009 implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the ability to regulate tobacco.

Also in 2009, the federal tax rate for cigarettes increased from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack, causing Americans to quit smoking for financial reasons, King added.

A third reason for the smoking decline was effective advertising campaigns, the report co-author stated. He specifically cited the "Tips From Smokers" ad campaign the CDC launched in 2012. The ads depicted several ex-smokers offering personal details about the devastating effects caused by smoking.

These ads included a testimonial from Terrie Hall, a 53-year-old North Carolina woman who was diagnosed with oral and throat cancer and needed to have her voice box removed. Hall passed away in September.

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