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California lung cancer death rate less than national average

California has a 28 percent lower lung cancer death rate than the rest of the country thanks to statewide policies against tobacco, a study concluded.

As far back as the 1980s the state highlighted the link between smoking and cancer and introduced the nation’s first tobacco control program.

Those efforts resulted in fewer people starting smoking and more people quitting, researchers at the University of California, San Diego announced Wednesday.

Californians under 35 who do smoke puffed 30 percent fewer cigarettes and had a 24 percent higher quit rate than the rest of the nation, the research found.

“It is clear that from the early days of tobacco control, young people in California became increasing less likely to become addicted smokers,” said Dr. John P. Pierce of the university’s School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center.

Lung cancer deaths in the state decreased from 108 per 100,000 people in 1985 to just 63 per 100,000 in 2013. The decline is 33 percent faster than the national average.

Pierce, the study’s lead author, and his team analyzed decades of data on smoking behavior and lung cancer.

The findings were published online this week in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

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