Ohio has Mixed Record in Passing Policies to Reduce Tobacco Use, Save Lives, Finds New American Lung Association Report
(January 24, 2018) - Columbus, OH
The American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of Tobacco Control” shows Ohio earned mixed grades on its tobacco policies.
The 16th annual report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that while Ohio has taken significant steps to reduce tobacco use, including smoke free air laws, elected officials must do more to save lives and ensure all Ohio residents benefit.
“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 American Lung Association in Ohio Director of Advocacy Ken Fletcher. “Tobacco use is a serious addiction, and the fact that 22.5% percent of Ohio residents are current smokers highlights how much work remains to be done in our communities to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”
This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” finds Ohio’s mixed grades show that progress can be made, although more still must be done by Governor Kasich and the state legislature to enact proven 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 D
- Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F
Sadly, the report also details that as a result of decades of targeted marketing by the tobacco industry, too many Americans haven’t seen the benefits of reduced smoking rates, and Ohio and the federal government could do more to ensure all Americans benefit from tobacco control efforts. According to the American Lung Association,
- If Ohio 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. Ohio receives $1,332,000,000 from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, and should use more of these funds to help prevent tobacco use and help smokers quit.
- 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 Lung Association in Ohio encourages Ohio to increase tobacco taxes by at least $1.00 per pack. This step is critical to Ohio as current tobacco use among youth is 15.1%.
- Tobacco is a highly addictive product, and close to 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette by the age of 21. More must be done to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use in Ohio, and one powerful tool is increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21. In fact, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) found increasing the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer – the nation’s leading cancer killer.
“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,” said Ken Fletcher. “Ohio’s elected officials must act to implement these proven policies, which will prevent tobacco-caused death and disease, and help keep our lungs healthy.”