After declining for seven years, national smoking rates have remained steady at about 21 percent from 2004 to 2006, prompting concern among federal health officials that progress in curtailing smoking has stalled.
The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that reduced spending on anti-tobacco campaigns and bigger marketing budgets from cigarette companies appeared to be the reasons for the leveling off.
According to a CDC report released Thursday, funding for state tobacco control and prevention programs decreased about 20 percent from 2002 to 2006. Between 1998 and 2005, tobacco-industry marketing spending nearly doubled from about $7 billion to $13 billion, according to the report.
“What is happening doesn’t have to happen,” said Dr. Matt McKenna, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “With appropriate support and efforts and counter-marketing, tens of thousands of people don’t have to die.”