The vast majority of smokers start lighting up before they even reach their 18th birthday, a new report says.
The report, released Thursday by the U.S. Surgeon General's office, shows 80 percent of U.S. smokers take up the habit by 18, while a whopping 99 percent are smoking by the age of 26.
The report calls for an increase in anti-smoking efforts directed at young adults, as beginning at a young age greatly increases the odds of a long-term addiction.
Tax hikes on tobacco products and an increase in smoking restrictions were among the reports recommendations.
"I want to make sure we're doing everything we can to prevent kids from ever starting to smoke or use tobacco products," Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said.
The 920-page report, the first of its kind in almost two decades, showed a sizable decline in smoking among high school students since 1994, but found that the rate of decline has begun to slow in recent years.
The report also found that tobacco companies are spending more than ever to lure new customers; cigarette marketing is up 48 percent from what was spent in 1998. Health officials said these efforts are meant to reduce pricing, which could make access to cigarettes easier for our nation's youngest smokers.
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