Passage of State Smokefree Laws Slows

(June 30, 2011)

A new report on state tobacco control laws released today by the American Lung Association reveals that the pace of states passing comprehensive smokefree laws has slowed considerably over the past three years.

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A PDF version of SLATI 2010 is available on the American Lung Association’s SLATI website, click here

The SLATI website also contains an online version of SLATI that is updated regularly to reflect changes in laws taking effect throughout the year.

In its 2010 update of State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues (SLATI), the American Lung Association notes that while 11 states and the District of Columbia approved comprehensive smokefree laws in 2006 and 2007 alone, only six states approved such laws from 2008 to 2010.

“We hope this dramatic slowdown in the number of states going smokefree doesn’t continue,” said Thomas Carr, director of National Policy for the American Lung Association. “It is imperative that all states put in place comprehensive laws prohibiting smoking in public places and workplaces.”

The latest Surgeon General’s report on tobacco use, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease, released in December 2010, concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to tobacco smoke.  The Surgeon General also reiterated that the evidence that secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard is clear, convincing and overwhelming, and workers in all public places and workplaces need and deserve protection from it.

In addition, SLATI 2010 provides information on state tobacco control laws in a number of other key areas, including tobacco taxes, laws restricting youth access to tobacco products and funding for state tobacco prevention and cessation programs as of January 1, 2011.

Other Report Highlights

Tobacco Excise Taxes: Six states increased their cigarette taxes in 2010. These states include Hawaii, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. New York, which has the highest cigarette tax rate in the nation at $4.35 per pack, became the first state to have a cigarette tax rate of more than $4.00 per pack. Missouri currently has the lowest cigarette tax at $0.17 per pack.  Click here to view individual state tobacco tax rates across the nation. 

Studies show that high cigarette taxes keep children from starting to smoke, motivate adults to stop and reduce future tobacco-related health care costs.

Tobacco Control Program Funding: Sadly, the report found that several states have drastically cut or completely eliminated funding for tobacco control programs designed to prevent kids from starting to smoke and help smokers quit.

The good news on this front is that Alaska increased its FY2011 tobacco prevention and cessation funding above the level recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), joining North Dakota as the only states providing funding at or above CDC’s recommended level.

According to CDC’s Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs - 2007, if all states met and sustained their recommended funding level for five years, there would be approximately five million fewer smokers, resulting in the prevention of hundreds of thousands of premature tobacco-related deaths.