Texas Failing in its Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use According to American Lung Association National Tobacco Report
‘State of Tobacco Control’ report finds Texas has work to do to protect citizens, youth from the harms of tobacco use, secondhand smoke
(January 25, 2017) -
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The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report found that in 2016 Texas 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, including Texas, which 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 15 percent of Texans residents currently smoke,” said Holly Torres, executive director of the American Lung Association in Texas - Dallas. “We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use, what we need is Texas 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 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,” Torres said. “Increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives nationwide.”
Texas’ mixed grades the “State of Tobacco Control” show that much more must be done by our governor and state legislature to reduce tobacco use and save lives. The state’s grades for this year are:
• 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 calls on Texas to act on passing comprehensive local smokefree ordinances and increasing funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
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. Texas is one of the 22 states that has yet to fully protect its citizens from secondhand smoke.
“While Texas has made progress at the local level, it’s long past time for Texas to act and pass a comprehensive smokefree workplace law,” said Katie Jones, executive director of the American Lung Association in Texas - Houston. “No one should have to face the harmful effects of secondhand smoke to earn a paycheck.”
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 that the Obama Administration failed to proceed with other key initiatives, including requiring graphic warning labels on cigarettes. The federal government also did not 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,” Jones said. “‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco. “We must demand that Texas 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 the American Lung Association at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the American Lung Association in Texas
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.