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Calif. Smoking Policies Have Saved One Million Lives, State Says

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California's comprehensive approach to tobacco education and cessation activities has contributed to a steep decline in cigarette use in the state and has prevented an estimated one million smoking-related deaths, the Los Angeles Times reported April 9.

Data released on the 20th anniversary of the voter-approved California Tobacco Control Program — which created a 25-cent-a-pack tax on cigarettes, with 5 cents of each purchase earmarked for tobacco control — showed a 41-percent decline in smoking rates in California since the start of the program.

Additionally, state health officials said that California's youth smoking rate of 14.6 percent in 2008 was one of the lowest in the nation.

The antismoking program has saved one million lives and $86 billion in healthcare costs over the last two decades, said Kimberly Belshe, secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency. 

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