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December 1, 2000
CDC, Office on Smoking and Health
(770) 488–5493

Fact Sheet

Declines in Lung Cancer Rates - California, 1988 to 1997

  • Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Cigarette smoking is responsible for 87% of the lung cancers, and accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths.

  • An estimated 164,100 new cases of lung and bronchus cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2000. Each year, more than 156,900 men and women die from lung cancer.

  • Lung cancer mortality rates are about 23 times higher for current male smokers and 13 times higher for current female smokers compared to lifelong never-smokers.

  • During 1992-1996, mortality from lung cancer declined among men, while rates among women were increasing nationally. Since 1987, more women died from lung cancer than breast cancer.

  • In California, per capita consumption of cigarettes declined from 126.6 packs per person in 1987-1988 to 61.3 packs per person in 1998-1999. Smoking prevalence among adults decreased from 22.8% in 1988 to 18.0% in 1999.

  • California’s lung and bronchus cancer incidence rates decreased by 14 percent (from 71.9 per 100,000 in 1988 to 60.1 per 100,000 in 1997), while other selected and combined U.S. regions declined by only 2.7 percent (from 67.7 per 100,000 in 1988 to 64.7 per 100,000 in 1997).

  • The decline in lung and bronchus incidence rates for males in California (98.8 per 100,000 in 1988 to 74.9 per 100,000 in 1997) was 1.5 times larger than the decline in males (100.5 per 100,000 in 1988 to 84.9 per 100,000 in 1997) in other selected and combined U.S. regions.

  • Among women in California, the lung and bronchus incidence rates decreased by 4.8 percent (52.6 per 100,000 in 1988 to 49.1 per 100,000 in 1997), while there was a 13.2 percent increase (44.5 per 100,000 in 1988 to 50.1 per 100,000 in 1997) in other selected and combined U.S. regions.

  • In 1988, California became the first state to pass a voter’s approved initiative, Proposition 99, to raise tobacco taxes and dedicate a portion of the revenue for a comprehensive tobacco use prevention program. Funding for the program started in 1990.

  • Smoking rates in California have been declining more rapidly than the rest of the country since the late 1980s. This accelerated decline started prior to funding of their tobacco prevention and education program in 1990, which may reflect some general differences between California and other parts of the U.S. However, it appears that California’s prevention and education program accelerated the decline.

  • California and a growing number of states (Massachusetts in 1992, Arizona in 1994, Oregon in 1996, and Maine in 1998), have implemented statewide comprehensive tobacco control programs, which resulted in declines in per capita cigarette consumption and/or smoking prevalence rates among adults or teens. An effective tobacco control program that reduces and prevents tobacco use, will reduce lung and bronchus cancers and other health consequences attributed to tobacco use.

For more information, visit CDC’s TIPS Web site at

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This page last reviewed December 1, 2000

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention