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Oregon Has Mixed Results in Working to Reduce Tobacco Use

(January 16, 2013) -

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Carrie Nyssen

Oregon Has Mixed Results in Working to Reduce Tobacco Use

New American Lung Association Report Follows Money Trail to See How Tobacco Industry Addicts Kids 

Portland, Ore. [EMBARGOED UNTIL: 5 a.m. EST, January 16, 2013] – Oregon took steps forward to reduce tobacco use in some areas, but fell short in adequately funding programs to protect children and curb tobacco-related disease in 2012 according to the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2013” report released today.

The Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report tracks 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.

Oregon received the following grades for 2012:

  • Tobacco Prevention and Control Funding: F
  • Smokefree Air: A
  • Cigarette Tax: D
  • Cessation Coverage: D

The 11th annual report shows how money is often at the root of the leading cause of preventable death, as state and federal policymakers are failing to battle a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry.

The National Institute on Money in State Politics released a report today in conjunction with “State of Tobacco Control 2013” called “Big Tobacco Wins Tax Battles,” revealing preliminary data that tobacco manufacturers and retailers gave $53.4 million to state candidates for office, political parties and to oppose tobacco-related ballot measures during the 2011-2012 election cycle. This figure includes spending over $46 million to defeat California’s initiative to increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack. Tobacco manufacturers and retailers gave significant amounts of money to candidates in the following states: California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana and Missouri.

Although Oregon receives $332 million in tobacco-related revenue annually, it spends a meager 17.5 percent ($7.5 million) of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to fund tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs. Nationally, the failure of states to invest in policies and programs to reduce tobacco use has resulted in 3 million new youth and young adult smokers in the United States, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

Sadly, Oregon joins many other states in neglecting to properly invest its annual tobacco settlement funds and tobacco taxes to implement proven tactics that save lives and reduce tobacco-related disease. 

“Oregon must make it a priority to invest in programs that keep kids off tobacco and to help smokers quit,” said Renée Klein, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific. “That starts with investing tobacco settlement funds and other tobacco-related revenue streams into evidence-based tobacco prevention programs.”

Each year, 443,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses and secondhand smoke exposure. Tobacco causes an estimated 5,000 deaths in Oregon annually and costs the state’s economy almost $2.2 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity, a tremendous burden that our state can ill afford.

In 2012, Oregon demonstrated leadership by successfully passing legislation that again allows enforcement to occur in Oregon’s tobacco retailer inspection program. The new law authorizes retired Oregon State Police officers to conduct tobacco retail inspections and issue citations to stores making illegal sales. This law will help reduce illegal tobacco sales to minors, which could reduce youth tobacco use in Oregon.

Oregon also showed leadership in 2012 through the Governor’s signing of the Tobacco-Free State Properties Executive Order. Oregon is one of the first states to have such an order, which bans all tobacco use on most state properties as of Jan. 1, 2013. This action demonstrates the state’s commitment to health by offering a supportive environment to employees, clients and visitors who wish to quit smoking, while also protecting people from secondhand smoke.

“Opportunities abound in the year ahead,” continued Klein. “Now is the time for Oregon to dedicate tobacco settlement funds to health and prevention. Our state elected officials have an opportunity to make big strides in the fight to end tobacco-caused death and disease.”

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

For more information about the American Lung Association in Oregon or to support the work it does, call (503) 924-4094 or visit: www.lung.org/oregon.

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