John P. Pierce of the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, director of the Population Sciences Division at Moores UCSD Cancer Center, says California established the nation's first comprehensive Tobacco Control Program in 1989.
Since then, California's smoking rate is half that of the rest of the country -- 9.3 percent of Californians smoke, compared to 17.8 percent nationally.
"The consistency in the trends from cigarette sales and population surveys was reassuring" Pierce says in a statement. "What is really important is that the widening gap in smoking behavior between California and the rest of the nation is replicated in the lung cancer data 16 years later. There is no other behavior that affects a disease like this."
The team analyzed major national surveys conducted since 1965 as well as data from taxed cigarette sales to calculate trends in smoking behavior since 1960. They then compared these trends with lung cancer mortality data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The findings are published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.