States Across the Northeast Receive Failing Grades in Lung Association’s Annual Tobacco Report Card

Northeast states fall short in protecting residents from tobacco

(January 16, 2013)

All seven Northeastern states failed to protect children from Big Tobacco’s marketing tactics by neglecting to invest in programs and policies proven to reduce tobacco use according to the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2013 report released today.

The Lung Association’s annual State of Tobacco Control® report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.

State of Tobacco Control 2013 grades for all seven Northeast states are available at
“This year’s State of Tobacco Control makes clear that our entire region must do more when it comes to keeping youth off tobacco and helping smokers quit,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “While our region boasts the two highest cigarette taxes in the country, states like New Hampshire, which cut its tax by 10 cents in 2011, lag way behind. The one thing we can all agree on is that no one state is allotting enough money to its tobacco control program. Pushing state governments to meet or exceed the CDC’s recommendation will remain a top priority in 2013.”

The federal government’s progress on tobacco control over the past several years nearly ground to a halt in 2012, earning it the worst report card in years, three ‘D’s and an ‘F’. Most notably, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to exercise its oversight authority allowing for the proliferation of a new generation of tobacco products aimed at hooking youth smokers. The one major success for the federal government in 2012 was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) wildly successful Tips from Former Smokers advertising campaign, which spurred a dramatic rise in smokers seeking help to quit. 

The state section of the report card was awash with ‘D’s and ‘F’s. State governments again failed to invest income from tobacco taxes and tobacco settlement payments into programs proven to keep youth off tobacco and help current smokers quit. Despite receiving $25.7 billion in tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes this year, more than 40 states received an ‘F’ for not investing even half of what is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in proven tobacco prevention programs.  According to the most recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report, if states begin to invest in tobacco prevention programs, youth tobacco use could be cut in half in just six years.

States and the federal government have also failed to raise taxes on tobacco products other than cigarettes.  This led to a surge in the consumption of certain cheaper tobacco products, including flavored cigars that are popular among already vulnerable populations—youth, low income communities, Hispanics and LGBT.

Smoking costs the American public almost $200 billion every year in healthcare costs and lost productivity and wages – a staggering bill that the country can ill afford. The failure of states across the U.S. to invest in policies and programs to reduce tobacco use has resulted in 3 million new youth and young smokers in the United States, according to the Surgeon General’s 2012 report.

The National Institute on Money in State Politics released a report today in conjunction with State of Tobacco Control 2013 called “Big Tobacco Wins Tax Battles,” revealing preliminary data that tobacco manufacturers and retailers gave $53.4 million to state candidates for office, political parties and to oppose tobacco-related ballot measures during the 2011-2012 election cycle. 

Tobacco companies continue to introduce and promote new products, such as candy-flavored cigars and dissolvable tobacco products. Youth, low-income populations, and members of the Hispanic and LGBT communities who smoke cigars are more likely to smoke flavored cigars, according to a recent study in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.  Meanwhile, the sales and popularity of these tobacco products have surged in large part due to their cheaper price.  Each day, roughly 3,000 youth smoke a cigar for the first time. 

The American Lung Association of the Northeast highlights these priorities in 2013, with the shared goal of improving public health and the region's State of Tobacco Control grades:

  • Raising tobacco taxes by at least one dollar in 2013
  • Taxing “other” tobacco products, such as cigars and smokeless tobacco, at the same rate as cigarettes
  • Funding each state’s tobacco control program at or above the CDC recommended level
  • Expanding smokefree multi-unit housing across the region
  • Ensuring both public and private health plans cover all 7 smoking cessation medications recommended by CDC; that individual, group, online and phone counseling is available to all, and that  access to treatment is not restricted by limits on duration or number of quit attempts covered.

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