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Cigarette Smoking: 46 Million American Junkies Still Puffing, Says CDC

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One in five teens still smoking cigarettes, says CDC. (istockphoto) istockphoto

(CBS) If you want to stop Americans from smoking cigarettes it seems you are going to have to rip them from their cold dead hands.

Of course, with the insanely high risks of lung cancer and heart disease linked to smoking, that shouldn't be too hard.

According to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of American cigarette smokers is holding steady at 21 percent. More alarmingly, teen smoking has also failed to decline. One in five teens is lighting up.

In total, 46 million Americans are still puffing away on cancer sticks, according to the report.

"It's tragic," said CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden, who calls smoking the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States. He estimates that smoking kills 1,000 Americans a day.

The report has particularly bad news for kids.

More than half of U.S. children ages 3 to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke, says the CDC. And nearly all children who live with a smoker - 98 percent - have measurable tobacco toxins in their body. The agency says there is no safe level of exposure.

Experts say tobacco taxes and smoking bans are driving down rates in some states. But nationwide, they say progress has been halted by tobacco company discounts or lack of funding for programs to discourage smoking or to help smokers quit.

Anti-smoking advocates hope to use the current report to pressure lawmakers to do more.

"Without bold action by our elected officials, too many lives, young and old, will suffer needlessly from chronic illness and burdensome health care expenses," Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association, said in a statement.

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