Illinois Has Mixed Results in Working to Reduce Tobacco Use

(January 16, 2013)

New American Lung Association Report Follows Money Trail to See How Tobacco Industry Addicts Kids 

Springfield, IL – Illinois took steps forward to reduce tobacco use in some areas, but fell short in adequately funding programs to protect children and curb tobacco-related disease in 2012 according to the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2013” report released today.

The Lung Association’s “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.

The 11th annual report shows how money is often at the root of the leading cause of preventable death, as state and federal policymakers are failing to battle a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry.

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.  This figure includes spending over $46 million to defeat California’s initiative to increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack.  Tobacco manufacturers and retailers gave significant amounts of money to candidates in the following states: California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana and Missouri.

Although Illinois receives $1.2 billion in tobacco-related revenue annually, it spends a meager 8.7 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to fund tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs.  Nationally, the failure of states to invest in policies and programs to reduce tobacco use has resulted in 3 million new youth and young adult smokers in the United States, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

This year, Illinois received an “A” for smokefree air, “F” for tobacco control program funding, “C” for cigarette taxes, and “F” for coverage of treatments to help quit tobacco use.

Sadly, Illinois joins many other states in neglecting to properly invest its annual tobacco settlement funds and tobacco taxes to implement proven tactics that save lives and reduce tobacco-related disease.  

Each year, 443,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses and secondhand smoke exposure.  Tobacco causes an estimated 16,600 deaths in Illinois annually and costs the state’s economy over $8 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity, a tremendous burden that our state can ill afford.

Yet, amidst an overall lackluster year for nationwide tobacco control, Illinois stood out by increasing cigarette taxes by $1 per pack and doubling the tax on other tobacco products and taxing roll-your-own cigarettes at the same rate as manufactured cigarettes.    The Illinois House of Representatives also defeated a bill to weaken the Smoke Free Illinois Act by selling smoking licenses (House Bill 1310) with 82 NO votes to 30 YES votes.

“Opportunities abound in the year ahead,” continued Kathy Drea.  “While no state earned an A or B on its report card for cessation, the Affordable Care Act creates new pathways to help smokers quit.  That is why Illinois must include a cessation benefit in our Essential Health Benefit and Medicaid expansion plans.”