The once-rapid decline in tobacco use among young people has slowed as cash-strapped states slash funding for anti-smoking campaigns, a federal study showed.

From 2009 to 2011, the percentage of high school students using tobacco dropped only slightly, to 23.2 percent from 23.9 percent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The decline was greater among middle school students, dropping to 7.1 percent from 8.2 percent, the CDC said.

Youth tobacco use saw double-digit drops starting in the late 1990s as states ramped up antismoking campaigns that were aided by funds obtained in settlements of lawsuits against tobacco companies. From 1998 to 2003, young people's tobacco use dropped 40 percent, the CDC said.

But with states struggling with the economic downturn, funding for anti-tobacco campaigns has been drastically reduced or eliminated. Those cuts could explain why "current declines are occurring much more slowly," the CDC said.

Read more from Reuters.

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