Montana Must Work Harder to Prevent Tobacco-Caused Disease and Death

(January 19, 2012)


Contact: Colleen Hermann-Franzen
503-718-6145
chermann@lungoregon.org
        

Montana Must Work Harder to Prevent Tobacco-Caused Disease and Death

Helena, MT – Montana took steps forward in some areas, but fell short in others to protect children and curb tobacco-related disease in 2011 according to the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2012 report.

The Lung Association’s annual report card on tobacco control monitors progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state levels and assigns grades to assess whether laws are protecting citizens from the terrible health burden caused by tobacco use.

Montana received mixed grades on their report card. They received an “A” for smokefree air, a “C” for cigarette tax, an “F” for tobacco prevention and control spending, and a “D” for cessation coverage. Montana joins many other states that fell short in its responsibility to enact much-needed laws and policies that save lives and reduce tobacco-related disease.  

“If Montana pursues smart strategies identified in the report for better protecting its citizens from tobacco’s dangers, it will save countless lives,” said Renée Klein, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific.

Montana’s tobacco control programs have demonstrated success at tackling the number one cause of preventable death in Montana. In the past decade, tobacco rates have dropped significantly. Since 2001, tobacco usage rates have dropped 23.2 percent among adults and even more importantly 46.5 percent amount Montana’s youth.

During the 2011 legislative session, a bill was introduced to raise cigarette taxes by $1.50 per pack which would bring the total tax per pack to $3.20. Advocates supported the bill as a creative solution to provide revenue for tobacco prevention programs that were slated for cuts or elimination in the budget. However, attempt to pass the legislation majority stating vocal opposition to any tax increases.

The American lung Association in Montana will continue its efforts in 2012 to strengthen tobacco control policies to help prevent Montana’s youth from starting to smoke and to help tobacco users in Montana quit.

The Lung Association report congratulates the federal government for taking action to carry out strong tobacco control policies, as it identifies a chasm between the progress achieved by the federal government and weak efforts by most states.  Due to state’s inaction, the tobacco industry has made inroads to fill the resulting void, attempting to exploit states’ failure to act and marketing new products to addict Americans.

Although youth and adult smoking rates declined slowly over the past decade, the decline has been inconsistent. Tobacco use continues to reap a devastating toll. The adult smoking rate in Montana is 18.8 percent. Tobacco causes an estimated 1,418 deaths in Montana annually and costs the state’s economy $602,630,000 in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

In its tenth annual State of Tobacco Control report, the Lung Association graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on four proven policies to save lives and cut healthcare costs. These are tobacco prevention and control program funding; smokefree air laws; cigarette tax rates; and coverage of cessation treatments and services, to help smokers quit.

Overall, six states received all “F’s.” They were Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Only four states, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine and Oklahoma, received all passing grades. No state received straight “A’s.”

Many states regressed in 2011. No state passed a strong smokefree air law, and Nevada weakened its existing law. Washington virtually eliminated a tobacco prevention and quit-smoking program that was previously a national model.  For the first year in recent memory, no state increased its tobacco tax significantly, and 13 states and the District of Columbia significantly cut or completely eliminated already meager funding of tobacco control and prevention programs.

“The enormity of the challenge facing us requires combined resources at both the state and federal levels,” said Renée Klein, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific. “Failure isn’t an option, because our end goal is removing tobacco’s chokehold on America’s health, and that’s a life-and-death matter.”

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About the American Lung Association in Montana
The American Lung Association in Montana is a non-profit, voluntary public health organization, working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease in Montana. Our programs focus on the areas of asthma, clean air, tobacco prevention and lung disease. 

For more information about the American Lung Association in Montana or to support the work it does, call: 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit: www.lung.org/associations/states/montana