Tobacco Policy Statement


A tobacco-free society is the goal of the American Lung Association. Tobacco is a highly addictive substance and human carcinogen that causes disease and death. The American Lung Association supports measures to eliminate tobacco use by youth, to regulate tobacco products, to eliminate exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, and to deter tobacco use in the population through legislation, regulation, litigation, media advocacy and education.


The American Lung Association supports measures to prevent tobacco use by children and youth. To achieve this goal:

Tobacco excise taxes must be significantly increased to deter consumption.


  • The sale of tobacco products through vending machines must be banned.
  • Vendor-assisted sales for tobacco products must be required. Self-service displays must be eliminated.
  • Tobacco retailers must be licensed. Those who sell to minors must face strict, graduated financial penalties and loss of license. Enforcement of these laws must be diligently pursued and should include using minors in compliance checks.
  • The minimum age for the sale of tobacco products should be increased. Further research to determine the efficacy of these measures is needed.


  • Tobacco product sampling and promotion must be prohibited.
  • Tobacco industry branded merchandise must be eliminated.
  • Mail order, Internet promotion and other marketing mechanisms for tobacco products must be prohibited.
  • Tobacco use should be eliminated from new movies especially movies intended for children, teens and general audiences.

Industry Penalties
Increasingly stringent, tobacco company- specific, performance standards should be set to reduce children's use of all forms of tobacco. Failure to reduce children’s use must result in severe, graduated penalties.

The American Lung Association opposes laws that punish children. Civil or criminal penalties on youth possession or purchase of tobacco products have not been demonstrated to be an effective tobacco control strategy.


FDA Authority
Tobacco products are drugs and devices and must be regulated as such. The American Lung Association supports adequately funded, full, unfettered, Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over the manufacture, sale, distribution, labeling, marketing and promotion of tobacco. The FDA must have authority over all tobacco product testing, including tar and nicotine testing.

Lower-risk Products
As various purported lower-risk tobacco products have not been shown to reduce risks to tobacco users and their availability may reduce quit attempts and promote initiation, the American Lung Association does not support them. Any claims made with regard to such products should be reviewed and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

The American Lung Association supports measures to eliminate all forms of tobacco advertising and promotion. The protection and preemption clauses on cigarette advertising and promotion in the federal Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969 must be repealed.

The American Lung Association supports the public's right to know all information about tobacco products including public disclosure and testing of ingredients and additives. All tobacco documents pertaining to public health or industry misconduct, including those claimed to be privileged, must be disclosed to the public.

The American Lung Association supports measures to eliminate the tobacco industry targeting of youth, women, communities of color, the economically disadvantaged and other populations.

The American Lung Association supports measures to eliminate government promotion of the export, marketing or sale of tobacco products. Tobacco must not be considered as an item for trade negotiations.

Protecting Children Abroad
The American Lung Association supports measures by the government that will actively promote tobacco control worldwide. Tobacco companies should be required, at a minimum, to follow the same restrictions on youth access and marketing abroad as are established in this country.


The American Lung Association supports measures to require totally smoke-free environments to protect public health. Priority should be given to protect children from environmental tobacco smoke.


No Immunity or Liability Protection for the Tobacco Industry The American Lung Associations supports preserving all available avenues for citizens,
governments and others to bring actions against the tobacco industry, including the ability to bring class actions, use all lawful means to join cases and seek punitive damages. Tobacco executives, lawyers and agents must not be shielded from civil or criminal liability. The civil justice system's ability to address industry misconduct and protect public health must not be preempted. Any action to shield parent corporations or foreign affiliates of domestic tobacco companies from liability for their conduct must be opposed.


Tobacco Funds
The American Lung Association supports significant increases in tobacco excise taxes and other mechanisms to raise the price of tobacco products. Tobacco-related revenues from excise taxes, government litigation and other mechanisms should fund tobacco prevention, education, cessation, research and enforcement programs.

The American Lung Association supports increased funding of tobacco prevention, education and cessation programs by appropriate entities. Tobacco and health education should be included in school curricula.

The American Lung Association supports increased biomedical and behavioral research, including research on the health effects of tobacco use and environmental tobacco smoke exposure.

Cessation Coverage
The American Lung Association supports healthcare provider reimbursement and patient coverage for effective tobacco use cessation programs including behavior modification and pharmacological intervention.


The American Lung Association opposes all forms of preemption of state and local tobacco control authority. The ability of any government entity to enact tobacco control legislation is a cornerstone of an effective tobacco control policy. There is no trade-off worth the price of preempting a state or community’s right to pass tobacco legislation.

Sponsorships and Partnerships
The American Lung Association supports the elimination of tobacco industry sponsorships. Community, cultural, sports, entertainment, youth and other organizations should refrain from lending their names, engaging in partnerships or accepting donations from tobacco companies.

Ethics and Campaign Finance
The American Lung Association supports strict ethics laws, campaign finance reform and other mechanisms to reduce the tobacco industry’s influence on our elected officials and the public policy process.

So-called “Smoker’s Rights”
The American Lung Association opposes laws that elevate smokers to a protected class.


The American Lung Association supports measures to eliminate government funding for tobacco growth, production, marketing or any other purpose that promotes or facilitates tobacco use. Economic transition assistance for tobacco growers and workers should be supported. Tobacco production should be phased out.


The American Lung Association supports measures to prohibit the investment of public funds, including Social Security and employee pensions, in tobacco companies. Divestment of tobacco company holdings by the public and private sectors should be supported


The American Lung Association supports measures to eliminate fires caused by tobacco products.


The rationale for an aggressive public policy stance on tobacco and health is well established. More than 75,000 peer reviewed studies on tobacco and health have been published in the last three decades. The Reports of the Surgeons General also provide excellent documentation of the health impacts of tobacco use. With this large body of data, specific background on tobacco and health is not provided here.

Tobacco and Health Resources
U.S. Surgeon General reports beginning in 1964
The National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Journal of the American Medical Association
Journal of the American Public Health Association
Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders, USEPA
Health Effects of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke, California EPA
American Lung Association Resources:
Tobacco Control Advocacy Resource Guide
Trends in Cigarette Smoking
Lung Disease Data