American Lung Association Challenges States To Go Smokefree By 2010
Releases 4th Annual American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control Report Card
Maine Is First State to Receive Straight A’s
January 10, 2006, New York –Today, the American Lung Association kicked off its Smokefree Air 2010 Challenge calling on state and local policymakers to strengthen smokefree air laws to protect all citizens from the dangers of secondhand smoke. “Smokefree air laws are an overwhelming success that the public has embraced,” said John L. Kirkwood, President and CEO of the American Lung Association, “Every American deserves smokefree air now. We are challenging policymakers from governor to councilmember to protect the public by passing strong smokefree air laws.”
The Challenge’s kickoff is in conjunction with the release of its 4th annual American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control Report Card. The report card shows the most significant progress in the area of smokefree air. “When we first released this report card four years ago, there were only two states that had smokefree public places and workplaces including restaurants and bars – California and Delaware,” said Kirkwood, “From 2002 to 2005 seven more states became smokefree states – that’s incredible progress. A smokefree U.S. is achievable. Going smokefree will result in healthier people, reduced health care costs and thousands of lives saved.”
Maine Is 2005 Valedictorian
In 2005, Maine became the first state to receive an “A” in each of the four categories: tobacco prevention spending, cigarette tax, smokefree air and youth access. “This is a life-saving accomplishment,” said Kirkwood, “In the 1990s Maine had one of the highest youth smoking rates in the country – and between 1997 and 2005 it declined almost 60 percent.”
“With political resolve and strong public health partnerships, Maine has set an example for all states,” said Edward Miller, CEO of the American Lung Association of Maine, “The result will be lives saved from the death and disease caused by tobacco use and addiction.”
States Continue to Cut Tobacco Prevention Programs
Despite strong evidence showing that tobacco prevention programs save lives and money, states continued to underfund tobacco prevention programs. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that if states spend just the minimum amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), youth smoking nationally would be 3 to 14 percent lower.
Thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico received an “F” for program funding. Almost eight years after the state tobacco settlement, known as the Master Settlement Agreement, only six states – Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Mississippi and Wyoming – have sustained the commitment of significantly funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs. “It’s a public health disgrace that so many states have redirected funding away from effective tobacco prevention programs,” said Cassandra Welch, Director of National Advocacy at the American Lung Association and author of this annual report.
The Good News Is…Average State Cigarette Excise Tax Continues to Rise
Twelve states raised their cigarette taxes in 2005, increasing the average state cigarette tax to 92 cents per pack (from 84 cents last year). Nineteen states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have a tax of $1 or more. Five states – Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington – are at or over $2 per pack. Kentucky and North Carolina, both tobacco-growing states, raised their cigarette tax. The Kentucky increase was the first cigarette tax increase in 35 years.
The dramatic increase in state cigarette taxes has motivated thousands of smokers to quit. Higher taxes make cigarettes more expensive, which deters kids from starting to smoke and motivates adults to quit. In New York City there has been a 15 percent decline over two years. In the first six months since Oklahoma’s historic 80-cent tax increase, 30,000 Oklahomans have quit smoking.
Federal Government Once Again Falters In Protecting Americans
The United States once again received poor grades for its tobacco prevention efforts. Bipartisan legislation to authorize Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products continues to languish in Congress. A bright spot was the federal government’s decision to have Medicare cover smoking and tobacco use cessation counseling for most of its beneficiaries. Unfortunately, it continues to fail to fund cessation at the level recommended by its own experts. Finally, although more than 100 nations have ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first public health treaty, the President has not sent the treaty to the U.S. Senate for its consideration.
The Report Card
The American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control report card grades each state and the federal government on key tobacco control policies including cessation, regulation of tobacco products, ratification of the tobacco treaty, cigarette taxes, smokefree air, tobacco prevention programs and youth access to tobacco products. The laws are graded against recognized criteria and translates each state’s relative progress into a letter grade comprised of A, B, C, D or F. A grade of A is assigned to excellent state policy, while an F indicates inadequate state laws. The report can be found online at www.lungusa.org.
TAKE ACTION: Join the Smokefree Air 2010 Challenge
State of Tobacco Control: 2005
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
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