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American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2015” Report Charts Path Forward to Eliminate Tobacco-Caused Death and Disease

Report grades state and federal tobacco control policies and provides the steps the federal government and each state government must take to achieve bold lifesaving goals.

Chicago, IL – WEBWIRE

Today, the American Lung Association released its 13th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report that found that in 2014 the states and the federal government failed to enact the tobacco control policies that will save lives and end the tobacco epidemic.  The report finds most states earn poor grades and tobacco control progress is at a standstill.

“Despite cutting U.S. smoking rates by half in the last 51 years, tobacco’s ongoing burden on America’s health and economy is catastrophic,” said Harold Wimmer, American Lung Association National President and CEO. “Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and it impacts almost every system in the body, contributing to lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even sudden infant death syndrome.”

“State of Tobacco Control 2015” evaluates tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, and assigns grades based on whether laws protect citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives. The new report comes following the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Surgeon General’s report, which first sounded the alarm on the dangers of smoking. Now 51 years later, tobacco use kills almost half a million Americans and causes up to $333 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity each year. In 2014, the American Lung Association and its partners called for immediate action on tobacco use by all levels of government to achieve three bold goals:

  • Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent by 2024;

  • Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke by 2019; and

  • Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

“The American Lung Association is urging states and the federal government to take needed steps to achieve these bold goals,” said Wimmer. “It’s no secret how to reduce tobacco use in the United States, our state and federal leaders need to muster the political will to implement these proven policies. Our nation cannot afford the health or financial consequences of their continued failure to act.”

“State of Tobacco Control 2015” finds 2014 was a disappointing year with little progress made at the state and federal levels.  At the state level, no state passed comprehensive smokefree laws or significantly increased tobacco taxes. While the federal government improved in its efforts to help smokers quit, it failed to finalize its long-overdue proposal that would give the Food and Drug Administration oversight over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars.  Congress also took no action to increase federal tobacco taxes, missing a valuable chance to leverage this tool which is proven to reduce youth smoking – even though a tax increase was proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal. 

States’ Efforts are Stalled

“State level progress on proven tobacco control policies was virtually nonexistent in 2014.  No state passed a comprehensive smokefree law or significantly increased tobacco taxes, and not a single state managed to earn an ”A“ grade for providing access to cessation treatments in this year’s ’State of Tobacco Control 2015’ report,” said Wimmer. “No state policy maker should be proud of this report card.”

Alaska and North Dakota are the only two states funding their state tobacco prevention programs at the updated levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Forty-one states and the District of Columbia spent less than 50 percent of the CDC-recommended level, earning the states “F” grades.

Only two states, Indiana and Massachusetts, cover a comprehensive tobacco cessation benefit for Medicaid enrollees – although several states made progress towards a comprehensive benefit this year including Connecticut, Maine and Ohio.

Health insurance coverage to provide smokers access to all the tools proven to help them quit, was a hot topic again in 2014.  A few states, including Illinois and Delaware have taken action by issuing bulletins to health plans requiring comprehensive coverage of cessation treatments.   All state health insurance commissioners must make sure insurance plans, under their authority, are following the guidance on cessation treatments issued by the federal government in May 2014.

FDA Fails to Issue Final Deeming Rule; Some Progress Made in Other Areas at Federal Level in 2014

The federal government took small steps forward this year, but still fell short in important areas, such as tobacco taxes and finalizing its regulatory authority over all tobacco products.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed to assert authority over all tobacco products including e-cigarettes, little cigars and other tobacco products.  The American Lung Association also expressed strong opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposal to exempt certain cigars from basic FDA oversight and its failure to finalize the proposal by the end of 2014.

“Exempting any kind of dangerous and addictive tobacco product proven to cause lung disease, including lung cancer is unacceptable,” added Wimmer.  “FDA must have basic authority over all tobacco products in order to protect public health and the health of our children. Ending the tobacco epidemic can only happen if the FDA has broad authority and acts aggressively to protect American women, men and children from all tobacco products, including cigars.”

On the plus side the federal government issued an important policy clarification making it clear to insurance companies that all seven FDA-approved medications and all three forms of counseling should be covered to help smokers quit.

FDA also launched its youth prevention mass-media campaign, “The Real Cost” and CDC continued its highly successful “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign, which a study released in late 2014 shows has a significant impact with even current modest investments.

“Our message to the 114th Congress is clear; take aggressive action now to save lives by increasing tobacco taxes, funding the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers Campaign and protecting the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act from any efforts to weaken it,” concluded Wimmer.

View the entire report at


About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.  For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:


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