Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Pennsylvania. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Support a Youth Tobacco Prevention Package to include;
- Increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs;
- Increase the licensure fee to sell tobacco products;
- Increase the age of sale for tobacco products to age 21; and
- Remove the exemptions from the current Clean Indoor Air Act that restricts smoking in public places and workplaces.
The 2017 legislative session brought the introduction of a Tobacco 21 bill. Senator Mario Scavello introduced a model bill that would raise the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to 21. The announcement of Tobacco 21 bill came the same day as over 500 American Lung Association advocates attended an event at the State Capitol to demand a Tobacco 21 bill.
In 2017, the Pennsylvania Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (PATPC) focused on several types of collaborations to maximize new opportunities and sustain core tobacco control work. Collaborations occurred at the state and local levels, in addition to many PATPC presentations to national audiences. In 2017, PATPC worked closely with those implementing the new HUD smokefree regulations and continued clean air work with worksites and healthcare facilities not covered by the current clean indoor air law. PATPC also worked with the Department of Corrections to use findings from an initial pilot study to inform draft guidance for offering cessation in state correction institutions. PATPC continues to prioritize prevention, clean air policy, cessation, and addressing health disparities both on stand alone and collective efforts.
In a positive development, the Allegheny County Council passed a local ordinance that prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in the same places where smoking is prohibited by state law. Allegheny County includes the city of Pittsburgh.
The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania will continue to educate lawmakers on the ongoing fight against tobacco. Our goal is to build champions within the legislature and a groundswell of advocates to advance our goals: to support a youth tobacco prevention package that increases funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, increases the license fee to sell tobacco products, and increases the sales age for tobacco products to 21. The Lung Association will also continue to work to remove the exemptions from the current clean indoor air law.