Smoking has plunged 26 percent among lower-income smokers in Massachusetts, after just two years of an unusual state program targeting tobacco use. Patients enrolled in the state's MassHealth insurance program receive free counseling and medications to help them stop smoking. Anti-smoking advocates said the results suggest that expanding the Massachusetts prgogram nationwide could save tens of thousands of lives. "These findings are extraordinary," said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "They hjave major public-health implications as Congress is debating health-care reform."
And of course, this is during a time in which smoking rates in America - as in many developed countries - have been dropping for decades. Currently, less than 19 percent of American adults are smokers, the lowest percentage since at least World War I. In 1964, for example, when Surgeon General Luther Terry wrote a landmark report on the hazards of smoking, 42 percent of Americans were smokers.