After falling steadily for more than 40 years, smoking rates have steadied since 2004, according to CDC data released today. About 20% of Americans currently smoke, and experts are concerned. "Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable disease we have, and we need to bring down the rates as quickly as we possibly can," an epidemiologist tells the Washington Post.
Experts blame several factors for the trend. Tobacco companies have been spending billions to keep their products cheap and users hooked, and many anti-tobacco activists say the White House isn't paying sufficient attention to the issue. The administration has been "AWOL regarding tobacco control—doing little or nothing," says the head of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.