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Smoking rate among high schoolers remains constant

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Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Smoking

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Nearly one in four high school students were smokers last year, a rate that has not budged in several years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The CDC's National Youth Risk Behavior Surveys said last year's figure of 23 percent is the most current available.

From 1991 to 1997, smoking among high schoolers increased from 27.5 percent to 36.4 percent, the survey said.

Though the rate fell each year from 1997 until 2003, it has remained stalled at 23 percent since then.

The CDC, in its "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" attributed the stalled rate from 2003-2005 to several possible causes, including smaller price hikes, less money for states' anti-tobacco programs, increased spending on tobacco ads and promotions -- from $5.7 billion in 1997 to $15.2 billion in 2003 -- and potentially less exposure to anti-smoking campaigns.

In addition, smoking in movies, which the CDC has linked to youth smoking, rose in the early 1990s, "and by 2002 was at levels observed in 1950," it said.

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

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