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Success kicking the habit varies by race, education

Seven in 10 adult smokers in the United States say they want to quit _ but their success in kicking the habit varies widely by race and education, the government said Thursday.

A study of more than 32,000 adults in 2000 found that about 23.3 percent were current smokers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. That was down slightly from 25 percent in 1993.

Among those defined as current smokers _ people who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lives and still smoke regularly _ 70 percent said they would like to quit.

But the study revealed broad demographic gaps.

Fifty-one percent of whites who have smoked at some point in their lives were able to kick the habit, compared with just 37 percent of blacks, 43 percent of Hispanics and 45 percent of Asian-Americans.

The success rate rose by education level. Fewer than half of high-school dropouts said they had smoked and quit, compared with 64 percent of college graduates and 74 percent of people with graduate degrees.

There was a similar trend when researchers broke down the results by income. Roughly half of people at or above the poverty line had quit smoking, compared with just one-third below the line.

The CDC said the high cost of anti-smoking medication and unequal access to high-quality health care that includes anti-tobacco counseling probably accounts for the gap.

The drop in overall smoking since 1993 is significant, the CDC said. But health officials have a long way to go: They want to see the rate drop to 12 percent by 2010.

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