updated 5/26/2005 2:48:25 PM ET 2005-05-26T18:48:25

Smoking among women in the United States has dropped below one in five for the first time in nearly 30 years, the government said Thursday.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 21.6 percent of U.S. adults smoked in 2003, down slightly from 22.5 percent the year before. Smoking in the United States has generally declined year after year over the past two decades.

Slightly more than 24 percent of men and 19.2 percent of women smoked in 2003, the CDC said.

The CDC also found that 2003 had the lowest proportion of smokers ages 18 to 24 (23.9 percent) since 1991. Also, in 2003, the number of people who quit smoking (46 million) was greater than the number of those who still smoked (45 million) — only the second time in history that has happened. The first time was in 2002.

Despite the decline, the United States is still far from its 2010 goal of reducing smoking to one in eight adults, or 12.5 percent.

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