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More Than 34,000 California Teens Start Smoking Each Year

Aired 11/23/12 on KPBS News.

Smoking control advocates say too many California teens light up.

— California has the second-lowest adult smoking rate in the country. But California's teen smoking rate is not as low as in some other western states.

The latest figures show 13.8 percent of California teens smoke. That's lower than the national average, but not as low as the rates in other western states like Washington and Utah.

About 18 percent of San Diego County teens smoke. That's the highest rate of any county in California.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids says more than 34,000 California teens pick up the habit every year.

Tobacco control advocates say the state could curb youth smoking by raising tobacco taxes. California's 87-cents-a-pack tax is the 33rd highest in the nation. A ballot measure to raise the tax by a dollar a pack failed last spring.

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