American Lung Association Says More States Taking Strong Action To Protect Citizens from Tobacco Use
Annual Report Tracks State Tobacco Laws;
In 2005, 6 States Strengthened Smokefree Air Laws, 8 Raised Tobacco Taxes
New York, NY (March 15, 2006) – A growing number of states are taking strong action to protect their citizens by making almost all public places and workplaces smokefree and raising tobacco taxes, according to a report released today by the American Lung Association.
In its annual update of State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues or SLATI (published since 1988), the Lung Association analyzes state laws enacted in 2005 on smokefree air, youth access, tobacco taxes and tobacco prevention spending, among other issues. The report is the only resource of its kind in tobacco control today summarizing state tobacco control laws on an annual basis.
“Earlier this year, we issued our American Lung Association Smokefree Air 2010 Challenge, urging all states to adopt strong smokefree air laws. SLATI 2005 shows a trend toward more states protecting their citizens from secondhand smoke. We challenge policymakers in every state to do the same,” said John L. Kirkwood, President and CEO of the American Lung Association.
“We also are encouraged that more states are raising tobacco taxes, which makes cigarettes more costly. Higher cigarette prices deter children and youth from starting to smoke and help motivate adults smokers to quit,” he said.
Smokefree Air – Six states (Georgia, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) strengthened their smokefree air laws in 2005. Georgia’s new law prohibits smoking in many public places and workplaces, but allows smoking in some restaurants and bars under certain conditions. Montana’s new law prohibits smoking in most public and private workplaces, including almost all restaurants. Bars in Montana will go smokefree in 2009. North Dakota’s new law prohibits smoking in almost all public and private workplaces, but exempts stand-alone bars and separately enclosed bar areas in restaurants, hotels and bowling alleys. Rhode Island closed an exemption for bars with 10 or fewer employees, and private clubs. Vermont closed an exemption that had allowed smoking in bars and private clubs. Voters in Washington State overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative to prohibit smoking in almost all public places and workplaces, including all restaurants, bars and non-tribal casinos.
“Thanks to the life-saving legislation passed by these states, many thousands of workers and patrons will be protected each day from the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Kirkwood.
Tobacco Excise Taxes – Eight states (Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Washington) raised their cigarette taxes in 2005. Kentucky and North Carolina, the top two tobacco producing states, both raised their cigarette taxes to $0.30 per pack in 2005, from $0.03 and $0.05 respectively. The average state cigarette tax was $0.917 per pack as of January 1, 2006. For the second consecutive year, Rhode Island leads the nation with a tax of $2.46 per pack. Five states – Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington – have a cigarette tax of $2.00 or higher; 19 states and the District of Columbia have taxes of $1.00 or more.
Note: A court decision in December 2005 struck down Minnesota’s $0.75 “Health Impact Fee” passed in July 2005. The decision has been appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the “fee” will continue to be collected until the lawsuit is resolved.
“Higher cigarette taxes keep kids from starting to smoke, motivate adults to stop, reduce future tobacco-related health care costs and raise revenue that can be used to fund tobacco control and prevention programs,” said Kirkwood.
Tobacco Prevention Program Funding – State funding for tobacco prevention programs generally stabilized in 2005. Several states significantly increased their funding levels but others cut support for their programs. Colorado increased its funding to above the minimum level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to a tobacco tax increase ballot initiative passed in November 2004. Alaska, Montana and Wyoming also significantly increased funding for their tobacco prevention programs. However, Florida’s tobacco program, once a model for the country, was funded at only $1 million for the third consecutive year. New Hampshire and South Carolina are spending no state money on tobacco control and prevention programs in FY2006. Only four states – Colorado, Delaware, Maine and Mississippi – fund their tobacco programs above the minimum level recommended by the CDC.
A study published in the February 2005 issue of the American Journal of Public Health found that if all states spent just the CDC-recommended minimum on tobacco prevention programs, youth smoking nationally would be 3 to 14 percent lower. In two states, Maine and Mississippi, that have funded their tobacco prevention programs at the CDC minimum for several years, there has been a sharp decline in youth smoking rates among both high school and middle school students.
“Tobacco prevention programs are a wise investment for states. Unfortunately, most states still are not adequately funding these vital public health programs,” said Kirkwood.
SLATI is a searchable, regularly updated database available online at http://slati.lungusa.org. Media may obtain a hard copy of the 2005 report by contacting Josephine Ceselski at 202/785-3355. Non-media should contact Thomas Carr at 202/785-3355.
SLATI 2005 compliments a report released in January 2006, the American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control 2005, which grades state tobacco laws. For more information on that report, go to: http://www.lungusa.org.
About the American Lung Association
Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to www.lungusa.org.
- Contact Information
- Ilana Tabak
- Manager, Media Relations
- American Lung Association
- Contact via E-mail
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