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CDC wants more cigarette taxes, regs as tobacco usage flattens, teens experiment

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Health,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Taxes,Smoking,CDC,Tobacco

The rapid decline in Americans' tobacco use has leveled off, and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling for new taxes, regulations and warnings to force Americans to kick the habit.

In a new report, the CDC found that 50 million, or one in five, Americans use tobacco every day or some days, and 60 million, or one in four, “every day, some days or rarely.”

It also revealed that the use of electronic cigarettes is surging, and and e-cigarettes now account for nearly 5 percent of the smoking market.

Worse: Americans aged 18-24 showed up as the top group of daily, sometimes and rare users in the 2012-13 National Adult Tobacco Survey just released. “It cannot be determined from these data whether this represents early initiation that will escalate to established use,” said the CDC report.

The tobacco report warned that the anti-smoking trend is bottoming out and needs a kick start:

The findings in this report underscore the importance of continued implementation of proven population-based interventions focused on the diversity of tobacco product use in the United States. Such interventions include increasing tobacco product prices, implementing and enforcing comprehensive smoke-free laws, warning about the dangers of tobacco use through high-impact anti-tobacco mass media campaigns, and increasing access to help quitting, in conjunction with Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products. Sustained, comprehensive state tobacco control programs funded at CDC-recommended levels can accelerate progress toward reducing tobacco-related diseases and deaths in the United States.

The report also blamed states for not doing enough to scare users. Noting that states have $25 billion from tobacco settlement programs and taxes to use to fight smoking, the CDC said that it will spend just $481.2 million this year, about 15 percent of what the agency wants.

Top tobacco users:

• Americans age 18-24, 35.2 percent,

• Midwesterners, 27.7 percent.

• GED graduates, 47.3 percent.

• People with annual incomes less than $20,000, 32.7 percent.

• Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders, 35.8 percent.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.