1. Maintain or increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs;
2. Increase Arizona's tobacco taxes; and
3. Raise the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21.
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 2016, funding for Arizona's tobacco control program, Tobacco Free Arizona, suffered a drop in funding from last year going from $19.4 million in fiscal year 2015 to $15.5 million in fiscal year 2016. The program is funded by a percentage of revenue from tobacco taxes, so this could simply be a year to year fluctuation, but the Lung Association will keep a close eye on funding levels going forward. Few tobacco control bills of note were introduced during the 2016 legislative session; a bill was approved that makes a few amendments to Arizona's Internet sales of tobacco products law.
The Smoke-free Living Collaborative Program made strong progress again 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 2016, 129 communities across Arizona had fully implemented smokefree policies. An additional 225 were in the process of transitioning to smokefree. The program grew into a national model, with the director having been invited to share methods and best practices on HUD webinars and at the national conferences of HUD's Healthy Homes program and the National Association for Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
During the 2017 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 age of sale for tobacco products to 21 will also be a priority with introduction of a bill in the legislature by the Lung Association and others a possibility.