Vermont Among Top Six States In the Nation in Effort to Save Lives Through Common-Sense Tobacco Reduction Initiatives
American Lung Association’s annual ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report finds Vermont lawmakers can do more to prevent tobacco use.
(January 25, 2017) -
The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report has found that in 2016 the State of Vermont was a leader in the Northeast in implementing proven-effective policies that save lives, placing it among the top 6 states in the nation with the best overall report. 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. Vermont was a relative bright spot in an otherwise dismal report, receiving only a failing grade in the Lung Association’s newest category, focused on age of sale legislation.
“Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in our nation. While Vermont’s youth smoking rate has been cut to 11%, nearly one in four of Vermont high school students currently use some form of tobacco,” said Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Vermont was recognized in the report for being one of two states to add electronic cigarettes to its clean indoor air laws and one of eight states to offer comprehensive Medicaid coverage for all tobacco treatment and medications. However, as we head into 2017, it is vital that lawmakers refocus on funding the state’s comprehensive tobacco control program to protect the next generation of Vermonters 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.
This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” finds the State of Vermont’s grades show that maintaining smart, proven effective policies can save lives – but that more must be done to accommodate the changing tobacco landscape:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade D
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade A
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade B
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade B
- Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F
The American Lung Association of the Northeast calls on the State of Vermont to act to increase the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 and increase next year’s funding for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.
In addition, the American Lung Association is dedicating time and resources to supporting future funding for Vermont’s comprehensive tobacco control program. Vermont currently receives annual payments from the tobacco industry of $32 million annually. Beginning in April 2018, the state will receive $10-12 million less and expects to see the Vermont Tobacco Trust Fund depleted. These funds have played a major role in the progress Vermont has made over the years to prevent and reduce tobacco use. In response, the American Lung Association of the Northeast calls on Vermont lawmakers to dedicate three percent of the state’s annual tobacco tax revenue to sustain the state’s comprehensive tobacco control program.
“‘State of Tobacco Control 2017’ 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, Vermont has saved $1.43 billion in health care costs since 2001 while spending only $73 million in tobacco control funds. We urge Vermont lawmakers to dedicate tobacco tax revenue to sustain this program that saves lives and reduces health care costs.
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 Seyler. “We must demand that elected officials in Vermont 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 [email protected]or 516-680-8927
About the American Lung Association of the Northeast
The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT.