American Lung Association Report Card Grades State Tobacco Control Activities
Good News: Smokefree Workplace Laws, Cigarette Taxes Increase
New York, NY (January 9, 2007) – Dramatic growth in the number of states with smokefree workplace laws and an average cigarette tax of $1 per pack indicate that some progress was made in 2006 to protect the public from the dangers of smoking, according to a report card issued today by the American Lung Association. However, the annual report also notes that the majority of states are failing to adequately fund programs to prevent tobacco use – a critical component in keeping kids from starting to smoke.
The American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control 2006 report graded the 50 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in four categories: smokefree air, tobacco taxes, prevention funding and restrictions on youth access to tobacco products. For the second year in a row, Maine was the only state to earn “A” grade in all four categories.
“Our report sets a high standard. Only the strongest tobacco control laws will protect people from a product responsible for more than 438,000 deaths each year. The tragedy of tobacco use will be resolved only when comprehensive, strong policies are adopted to curb smoking,” said John L. Kirkwood, president and CEO of the American Lung Association.
The 2006 report gave a record 26 states and the District of Columbia passing grades (“C” or better) for having laws that make workplaces free of tobacco smoke. Unfortunately, another 23 states received “F” grades in that category.
Cigarette taxes rose in eight states in 2006. New Jersey now has the highest state tax at $2.575 per pack and the national average has risen to $1.00 per pack.
While overall funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs increased in 2006, 34 states received “F” grades for the amount they spend to help people avoid smoking or quit. Only nine states received “A” grades for spending a significant amount on smoking prevention and cessation, up from six states in 2005.
Kirkwood noted that the growth in the number of strong smokefree workplace laws is a positive response to the American Lung Association’s Smokefree Air 2010 Challenge, a campaign launched in 2006 to make all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, 100 percent smokefree no later than 2010. Sixteen states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are now considered to be smokefree, up from just two states in 2002 and nearly double the nine states that were smokefree in 2005 – a nine-fold increase in just four years.
“If we maintain our current pace, we will meet our Smokefree 2010 Challenge target. That means healthier and smokefree air, reduced health care costs and thousands of lives saved,” said Kirkwood.
Especially encouraging are developments in several traditional tobacco-producing states. Tennessee prohibited smoking in all state government buildings and North Carolina prohibited smoking in all buildings occupied by the General Assembly. In Virginia, home to tobacco giant Philip Morris, the state Senate approved a strong smokefree air bill that was ultimately defeated in a House subcommittee.
“The fact that lawmakers in Virginia are even having this discussion is promising,” said Kirkwood. “Clearly, the social dynamics of smoking are changing. Smokefree workplaces are becoming the norm.”
Ballot Box Victories
In November, seven states voted on ballot initiatives to prohibit smoking in most public places and workplaces, increase cigarette taxes, or increase funding for tobacco programs.
“Despite spending millions to defeat good tobacco initiatives – or to support bad ones – Big Tobacco was sent packing when people went to the polls. Voters approved pro-health initiatives in five of seven cases – in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Ohio and South Dakota. Importantly, voters rejected the bad, pro-industry proposals in Ohio, Arizona and Nevada,” said Kirkwood.
“Unfortunately, in 2006 neither Congress nor the Administration took any meaningful steps to curb tobacco use. That lack of action earned the federal government an ‘F’ for the year,” said Kirkwood.
Legislation to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products was again introduced in Congress, but was not passed. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first tobacco control treaty, continued to languish on the president’s desk as it became international law, approved by 140 nations – not including the United States.
The American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control Report can be found online at 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 America 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.
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