New Mexico has a Mixed Record in Passing Policies to Reduce Tobacco Use, Save Lives, Finds New American Lung Association Report
2018 ‘State of Tobacco Control report encourages New Mexico lawmakers to raise state tobacco tax
(January 24, 2018) -
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The American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of Tobacco Control” report shows that New Mexico earned mixed marks on its tobacco policies. The 16th annual report, which grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, finds that while New Mexico’s elected officials must do more to save lives, including raising taxes on tobacco products, increasing funding for state’s tobacco prevention and control programs and protect residents from exposure to secondhand smoke.
“Nationwide, smoking rates have continued to decline to historically low levels, yet tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease killing over 480,000 Americans each year,” said Terry Huertaz, executive director of the American Lung Association in New Mexico. “Tobacco use is a serious addiction, and the fact that 16 percent of adults in New Mexico are current smokers highlights how much work remains to be done in our communities to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”
New Mexico’s mixed grades in this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” show that progress can be made, although more still must be done by Gov. Susana Martinez and the state legislature tobacco usage rates and save lives:
• Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
• Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade B
• Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade F
• Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade D
• Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F
The American Lung Association in New Mexico calls on state policy makers to act on the following priority areas in 2018 to meet state goals:
• Last legislative season, the American Lung Association along with its partners were unsuccessful in passing legislation that would raise the state’s cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack and impose an equivalent tax on other tobacco products, including cigars, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes. Increasing tobacco taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, not only among low-income individuals but also for youth. To protect kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction, the American Lung Association encourages lawmakers to increase tobacco taxes.
• There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and those living in multi-unit housing are especially at risk. The American Lung Association in New Mexico’s Smoke-Free at Home NM program provides education and support to property managers and owners on the economic and health benefits implementing smokefree policies. This year, the American Lung Association will continue to protect those who live in multi-unit housing from the dangers of secondhand smoke
• If New Mexico would increase funding for tobacco control programs, they would have a powerful opportunity to target these programs to communities that still use tobacco at higher rates and who have been targeted by the tobacco industry
“We know how to reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and protect the health of all Americans,” Huertaz said. “New Mexico elected officials must act to implement these proven policies, which will prevent tobacco-caused death and disease, and help keep our lungs healthy.”
About the American Lung Association in New Mexico
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 the newly redesigned website: Lung.org.