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The nationwide smoking rate has been cut by more than half -#8212; from 43 percent in 1965 to 18 percent in 2012 -#8212; but tobacco smoke still accounts for almost 500,000 premature deaths a year, the report said.

In California, tobacco use causes about 36,000 deaths a year and more than 30,000 children start smoking each year, the Lung Association said.

The report is available online at www.lung.org/associations/states/california.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.