American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014” Report Highlights Urgent Need for Iowa to Renew Its Commitment to Eliminate Tobacco-Caused Death and Disease

Iowa Has Mixed Results in Working to Reduce Tobacco Use in 2013; tobacco use still leading cause of preventable death in Iowa

(January 22, 2014)

Iowa took steps forward to reduce tobacco use in some areas, but fell short in adequately funding prevention programs to protect children and curb tobacco-related disease in 2013.  Those were the findings of the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014” report released today.   Fifty years since the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health was issued on January 11, 1964, and less than a week after the new Surgeon General’s report providing the latest research was released, the Lung Association’s new report issues an urgent call to action to policymakers in Iowa and across the country.  Policymakers must reverse their present course and commit to eliminating tobacco-caused death and disease. 

“Despite strides in reducing smoking rates in America by half in the last 50 years, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S., including lung cancer, the number one cancer killer of both men and women in America,”, said Harry Yuan, an American Lung Association in Iowa Board Member, and Pediatric Pulmonologist at Mercy Children’s Hospital and Clinics. “The Surgeon General’s 2014 report is the clarion call that our nation needs to renew its commitment and not let another 50 years of inaction occur.” Yuan urged.

The Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014,” its 12th annual report, tracks yearly 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 2014 report highlights the 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s report that linked smoking to lung cancer and other diseases for the first time.

In advance of the 50th anniversary, the American Lung Association and its partners called for action by all levels of government to achieve three bold goals: 

Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent within 10 years;

Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within five years; and

Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

“If these goals are to be realized and lives are to be saved, Iowa must enact these lifesaving policies,” said Yuan. “In short,” Yuan added, “our state and nation cannot afford the health or financial consequences of failing to act.”  Iowa received the following grades for State of Tobacco Control 2014: 

Tobacco Prevention and Control Funding: F

Smokefree Air: A

Cigarette Tax: D

Cessation Coverage: F

“Iowa’s report card was decidedly mixed in the fight against tobacco use in 2013.  We made some progress in protecting our citizens from tobacco-caused diseases like lung cancer and COPD, particularly in the area of tobacco prevention and cessation,” said Yuan. “However, our state’s leaders still failed to do everything that needs to be done, and we have more work ahead in 2014.” Iowa received an increase in funding for its tobacco prevention and cessation program by over $1.7 million this year.

Tobacco causes an estimated 4,442 deaths in Iowa annually and costs the state’s economy $1,910,667,000 in healthcare costs and lost productivity, a tremendous burden that our state can ill afford. 

Priorities that must be addressed to improve Iowa’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades in 2014 include:

Restore funding to the Iowa Tobacco Prevention and Control program to $12.3 million.

Increase Iowa’s tobacco tax and equalize the taxation of other tobacco products

Close the loop hole on Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act to include Casino’s

“Leaders in Des Moines must step up to provide more smokers with the support they need to quit and adequately fund prevention programs that help keep our kids off tobacco,” said Yuan. 

Meanwhile, the tobacco industry continued its ruthless pursuit of addicting new users and keeping current users from quitting in 2013.  This included efforts at the federal and state levels to exempt their products from meaningful public health protections.

The three largest cigarette manufacturers—Altria, Reynolds American, and Lorillard—continued their aggressive expansion into tobacco products other than cigarettes in 2013. As cigarette use continues to gradually decline, these companies continue to maintain their stranglehold on America’s youth and reap profits from smokeless tobacco, cigars and now e-cigarettes.

“I urge all Iowans to join the American Lung Association in Iowa and renew their commitment to preventing another 50 years of tobacco caused death and disease,” said Yuan.   

About the American Lung Association in Iowa
Our mission is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungIA.org.