Effort to Reduce Tobacco Use in Massachusetts Shows Progress, but Leaves Youth Lives at Risk | American Lung Association

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Effort to Reduce Tobacco Use in Massachusetts Shows Progress, but Leaves Youth Lives at Risk

American Lung Association’s ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report finds Massachusetts must do more to protect residents, youth from the harms of tobacco use

(January 25, 2017) -

The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report has found that in 2016 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts led the Northeast in implementing proven-effective policies that save lives, placing it among the top 6 states in the nation with the best overall report.  The report, however, also highlighted the State’s failure to implement statewide Tobacco 21 legislation, and its higher-than-average percentage of high school tobacco users. 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.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in our nation.  Today, 16 percent of adult residents of Massachusetts and 29.3 percent of Massachusetts high school students use tobacco products,” said Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use, what we need is Massachusetts 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 Seyler. “Increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives nationwide.”

This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” finds the State of Massachusetts’s mixed grades show that much more must be done by our Governor and 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 A
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade D
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade D

The American Lung Association of the Northeast calls on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to act to increase the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 and to restore statewide funding for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.

“As of December 2016, over 140 localities in Massachusetts have passed Tobacco 21, but the time is now for the legislature to pass the comprehensive omnibus tobacco control bill,” said Casey Harvell, Director of Public Policy. “Tobacco 21 and expanding Massachusetts’ smokefree air law to also restrict the use of electronic cigarettes will directly improve the health of Massachusetts residents. While Massachusetts has done a good job of providing residents the tools they need to quit their addiction, we must move forward with strong policies to prevent another generation of kids from ever starting to smoke.”

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 Seyler. “We must demand that elected officials in Massachusetts 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 at Jennifer.solomon@lung.org or 516-680-8927

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About the American Lung Association of the Northeast
The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT.

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