State of Tobacco Control 2015: Charting a Path Forward to Eliminate Tobacco-Caused Death and Disease | American Lung Association

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State of Tobacco Control 2015: Charting a Path Forward to Eliminate Tobacco-Caused Death and Disease

(January 21, 2015)

The American Lung Association has released its 13th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report that found in 2014 states and the federal government failed to pass the tobacco control policies that will save lives and end the tobacco epidemic. Most states earn poor grades and tobacco control progress is at a standstill. However, this year’s report goes beyond grading progress and provides steps the federal government and each state government must take to achieve bold lifesaving goals to eliminate tobacco use.

"State of Tobacco Control 2015" looks at tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, and assigns grades based on whether state and federal laws protect people from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives. 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 American Lung Association President and CEO Harold 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."

States’ efforts are stalled

Very little happened at the state level on tobacco control policies in 2014.  No state passed a comprehensive smokefree law or significantly increased tobacco taxes, and not a single state earned an "A" grade for providing access to quit smoking treatments in this year's report.

Alaska and North Dakota are the only two states funding their state tobacco prevention programs at 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.

How did your state rate?  Visit the report and find out.

Federal government – some progress, major failures

The federal government took some 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 exclude 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. "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 published in late 2014 showed has a significant impact with even its current modest level of funding.

Want to learn more about the Federal Government’s score, and what it must do to help end tobacco-caused disease and death?  Visit the report.

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