Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Tennessee. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Tennessee calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Increase the tobacco tax by $1.00 per pack or more;
- Repeal preemption to allow local communities to pass stronger smokefree ordinances; and
- Pass legislation to make tobacco cessation medications and counseling covered under Medicaid barrier free.
Unfortunately, the 2017 legislative session saw few victories against tobacco. The city of Cookeville was given the authority by the state legislature to prohibit smoking at Dogwood Park. Also, public universities in Tennessee were given the authority to create their own tobacco use policies. There were two bills that sought to give local governments more power regarding tobacco, both received broad support and were sent to a summer study committee in hopes of combining the two. No other tobacco bills were heard before committees in 2017.
The American Lung Association in Tennessee with partners is working to raise the price of cigarettes by $1.00 per pack or more, repeal preemption to allow local communities to pass stronger smokefree laws and pass legislation or regulations making all U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force approved tobacco cessation interventions covered by Medicaid with no barriers. This is being accomplished by mobilizing grassroots support across the state and strengthening our state tobacco control coalition to include more organizations. Tennessee began restructuring and recruitment of the coalition with a planning committee to set goals in October 2017.