Virginia Failing in its Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use, Finds American Lung Association National Tobacco Report
(January 25, 2017) -
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The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” Report has found that in 2016 Virginia 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. Virginia has not increased the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 years old and remains among the 22 states that have not passed comprehensive smokefree laws.
“Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in our nation, and while 16.5 percent of Virginia adults currently smoke, 22.7 percent of High School students use tobacco,” said Deborah P. Brown, President and CEO, American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use, what we need is Virginia 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 Brown. “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 Virginia’s failing 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 F
- 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
The American Lung Association Virginia calls on elected officials to increase the cigarette excise tax by at least $1.00 per pack; create parity between taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products; and fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended level.
Beyond efforts to reduce tobacco use rates, the report also looked at secondhand smoke protections in workplaces. While 28 states plus the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive smokefree workplace laws, no state passed a comprehensive law in 2016, and only one state has passed a comprehensive smokefree law since 2011. Virginia is one of the 22 states that has yet to fully protect its citizens from secondhand 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 Brown. “We must demand that Virginia 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 Communications Director Ewa Dworakowski at [email protected] or 717-541-5864 ext. 130.
To view the report click here.
About the American Lung Association in Virginia
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 (1-800-5864872) or visit: Lung.org.