American Lung Association’s ‘State of Tobacco Control 2016’ Report finds Connecticut Failing in Efforts to Save Lives by Reducing Tobacco Use
(February 3, 2016) -
Today, the American Lung Association released its 14th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report that found in 2015 Connecticut failed to enact proven tobacco control policies that will save lives. The report also finds Connecticut is not alone, as most states and the federal government earned poor grades, and the high level of youth use of tobacco products other than cigarettes threatens to undermine the United States’ overall progress in the fight against tobacco-caused death and disease.
“Connecticut’s leaders are missing a clear opportunity to save lives by not taking better steps to prevent and reduce tobacco use. Their action to completely eliminate the transfer of funds to the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund for the next two fiscal years is the ultimate in pennywise and pound-foolish,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “This program not only saves lives, but saves the state much-needed dollars in healthcare costs.”
The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates tobacco control policies at the state and federal level, and assigns grades based on whether laws protect citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives.
“State of Tobacco Control 2016” finds Connecticut’s failing grades show that urgent action is needed by our Governor and State Legislature to pass proven policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:
• Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding – Grade F
• Tobacco Taxes - Grade B
• Smokefree Air - Grade C
• Access to Cessation Services - Grade D
The American Lung Association in Connecticut calls on its elected officials to act on the proven methods to reduce smoking rates: restoring and sustaining funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs to at least $6 million per year, closing the remaining loopholes in the state’s clean indoor air act so that all workers are protected from secondhand smoke; and equalizing the tax rate on other tobacco products to the current tax on cigarettes.
“We must also face the reality that the use of other tobacco products by youth nationwide like e-cigarettes and little cigars is at an all-time high, said Seyler. “Nearly a quarter of high school students are using tobacco products, and it is crucial that Connecticut take aggressive action to reduce all tobacco use – the #1 cause of preventable death and disease in our nation.”
Beyond efforts to curb tobacco use rates, the report also looked at secondhand smoke protections in workplaces. While 28 states plus the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive smokefree workplace laws, no state passed a comprehensive law in 2015, and only one state has passed a comprehensive smokefree law in the past five years. Connecticut is one of the 22 states that has yet to fully protect its citizens from secondhand smoke.
“It’s long past time for Connecticut to close its loopholes and enact a truly comprehensive smokefree workplace law,” said Ruth Canovi, Manager of Public Policy for Connecticut. “No one should have to endure the harmful effects of secondhand smoke simply to earn their paycheck.”
“Too many people think that tobacco is an issue of the past,” said David Hill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and Director of Clinical Research at Waterbury Pulmonary Associates. “Yet it is still a very real and present issue. As a physician, I see the harm tobacco has on Connecticut residents every day. We should be doing everything within our power to help smokers quit and keep youth from becoming addicted to nicotine containing products. The blatant choice to not fund the Tobacco Prevention and Control programs will ultimately do our residents more harm than good.”
As of January 31, 2016, the Obama Administration had not yet given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight authority over all tobacco products including cigars, e-cigarettes, little cigars and hookah (commonly referred to as the deeming rule). The grade of “I” for Incomplete for FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products is assigned because the final rule is expected at any time. Other federal grades include a “C” for Federal Cessation Coverage, an “F” for Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, a new grading area in this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report.
“It’s not a secret how we can reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control 2016’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco, said Canovi. “We must demand that our elected officials in Connecticut urgently act to implement these proven policies to save lives.”
For media interested in speaking with an expert about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected].