American Lung Association’s ‘State of Tobacco Control 2016’ Gives Vermont Highest Grades in Region for Efforts to Save Lives by Reducing Tobacco Use
(February 3, 2016) -
Today, the American Lung Association released its 14th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report that finds that in 2015 Vermont made progress on tobacco control policies that will save lives and was one of eight states in the nation to increase cigarette taxes. The state had the highest overall grade in the region in spite of dropping from a C to a D for tobacco prevention and control funding. The report also finds that most states and the federal government earned poor grades, and the high level of youth use of tobacco products other than cigarettes threatens to undermine the United States’ overall progress in the fight against tobacco-caused death and disease.
“While we celebrate successful tobacco control policies in Vermont like its efforts to regulate e-cigarette use by restricting sales to those 18 years and older, we still must face the reality that young people are using tobacco products like e-cigarettes and little cigars is at an all-time high,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Nearly a quarter of high school students nationwide are using tobacco products, and it is essential that Vermont continue to take aggressive action to reduce all tobacco use – the #1 cause of preventable death and disease in our nation.”
The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failure of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use. The report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.
“State of Tobacco Control 2016” finds Vermont’s mixed grades show that the state scored well in three categories, but more needs to be done by our Governor and State Legislature to support the comprehensive program that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:
• Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding – Grade D
• Tobacco Taxes - Grade B
• Smokefree Air - Grade A
• Access to Cessation Services - Grade B
The American Lung Association of the Northeast calls on Vermont to act to ensure at least level funding for the state’s comprehen¬sive tobacco control program; provide a long-term, sustainable funding source for the Tobacco Control Program; and expand the state’s clean indoor air laws to include electronic cigarettes. In this year’s report, Vermont’s grade for Tobacco Prevention and Control Funding fell from a C to a D because of some budget cuts that were proposed by the Governor to fill a budget hole.
"As a pediatric pulmonologist, I see firsthand the effects that smoking and secondhand smoke exposure have on the lungs of infants, children and teenagers. The state needs to invest in funding that will enhance education and prevention efforts to reduce tobacco use and the health problems that come with that use,” said Keith Robinson, MD, Director of Quality and Assistant Professor, University of Vermont Department of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital.
As of January 31, 2016, the Obama Administration had not yet given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight authority over all tobacco products including cigars, e-cigarettes, little cigars and hookah (commonly referred to as the deeming rule). The grade of “I” for Incomplete for FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products is assigned because the final rule is expected at any time. Other federal grades include a “C” for Federal Cessation Coverage, an “F” for Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, a new grading area in this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report.
“ ‘State of Tobacco Control 2016’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Rebecca Ryan, Senior Director of Health Education and Public Policy at the American Lung Association in Vermont. It's clear that evidence-based prevention, like Vermont’s tobacco control program, is integral to a comprehensive health care program. It is a return on investment, and a sizable one at that. In fact recent data show that Vermont has saved $2.43 billion in health care costs since 2001 while spending only $72 million in tobacco control funds. We urge Vermont lawmakers to fully fund and sustain this program that saves lives and reduces health care costs.
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 media@LungNE.org.