Illinois Failing in its Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use, Finds American Lung Association National Tobacco Report | American Lung Association

Illinois Failing in its Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use, Finds American Lung Association National Tobacco Report

‘State of Tobacco Control’ report finds Illinois has a lot of work to do to protect citizens, youth from the harms of tobacco use, secondhand smoke

(January 25, 2017) - SPRINGFIELD, IL

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James Martinez
(312) 445-2501

The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report has found that in 2016 Illinois failed to do enough to implement proven-effective policies that would save lives. The 15th annual report grades states and the federal government on policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The report shows that most states and the federal government earned poor grades. Illinois has not increased the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 years old, ranks 19th in state cigarette tax rate, and provides only minimal funding for statewide tobacco prevention and control funding.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in our nation, and 15.1 percent of Illinois residents currently smoke,” said Kathy Drea, Vice President, Advocacy, for the American Lung Association in Illinois. “We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use, what we need is Illinois policymakers to implement the policies and programs called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ that would save lives and protect kids from a lifetime of addiction.”

The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failures of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use, and the report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous health toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. This year, the report has added a new grade on efforts to increase the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21.

“Close to 95 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21,” said Drea. “Increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives nationwide.”

In 2015, the Illinois Senate passed a bill to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 but the bill stalled in the House of Representatives. The American Lung Association in Illinois calls on the General Assembly to make Tobacco 21 a priority and pass a bill in 2017 to increase the purchase age of tobacco products to 21.

This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades for Illinois show that much more must be done by Governor Rauner and the State Legislature to pass proven-effective policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade “F”
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade “A”
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade “F”
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade “F”
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade “F”

In this year’s “State of Tobacco Control,” the federal government earned an “F” for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Regulation of Tobacco Products. Although the American Lung Association applauds the release of the final rule that gave FDA authority over all tobacco products, the report recognizes the Obama Administration’s failure to proceed with other key initiatives including requiring graphic warning labels on cigarettes and the federal government’s failure to move forward on issuing a rule to end the sale of menthol cigarettes nationwide – despite the recommendations from an FDA expert advisory committee.

Other federal grades include a “C” for Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments, an “F” for Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, including the Tips from Former Smokers Campaign.

“It’s not a secret how to reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Drea. “We must demand that Illinois elected officials urgently act to implement these proven policies that will save lives and prevent tobacco-caused death and disease.”

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 in Illinois at or (217) 971-7274.


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

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