Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Arizona. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Arizona calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Raise the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21;
- Maintain or increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs; and
- Increase Arizona's tobacco taxes.
The American Lung Association in Arizona continues to champion tobacco control issues in Arizona by leading legislative efforts and partnering with key organizations, state departments, and legislators to ensure tobacco education and prevention remains among the state's top priorities.
In 2017, funding for Arizona's tobacco control program, Tobacco Free Arizona, went from about $18.4 million in fiscal year 2017 to $17.8 million in fiscal year 2018. The program is funded by a percentage of revenue from tobacco taxes, and funding has remained relatively consistent over the years. However, the American Lung Association in Arizona keeps a close eye on funding levels to ensure this vital tobacco prevention and quit smoking program receives the funding dedicated to it. Even at current funding levels, the state remains well short of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended level.
The Smoke-free Living Collaborative Program continued its strong performance this year toward achieving its mission to empower Arizona communities to live smokefree. Outreach efforts to connect with and inform multi-family property managers and owners about the advantages of adopting smokefree policies yielded strong results. In 2017, 302 communities across Arizona had fully implemented smokefree policies. An additional 185 were in the process of transitioning to smokefree. The program again demonstrated itself as a national model, by being featured in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2017 Guidebook for Implementing Smoke-Free Policies. The program director was also invited to speak at the 2017 Arizona Housing Forum on adopting smokefree policies in Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties.
During the 2018 legislative session, the American Lung Association in Arizona will again work diligently to educate our lawmakers on the enormous negative economic impacts that tobacco use has on Arizona. Raising the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21 will also be a priority.