Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Utah. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in Utah calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Maintain or increase funding for state's tobacco prevention and control program;
- Increase the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21; and
- Raise Utah's tobacco tax to encourage an even further reduction in tobacco use.
In 2017, the American Lung Association in Utah supported legislation that would have increased the age to legally purchase tobacco products to 21 years of age from age 19 currently. Although the legislation did not make it out committee, legislators were educated on the issue for when the bill is introduced in future legislative sessions.
The Lung Association also opposed a bill introduced in the state House of Representatives that would have removed a sunset clause for several exemptions in Utah's Clean Indoor Air Act that prohibited smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces. The bill did pass the first committee in the House, but luckily did not advance any further.
Funding for the Utah Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at the state Department of Health was again maintained at about the same level as previous years in fiscal year 2018. The program is funded by a combination of tobacco Master Settlement Agreement dollars and tobacco tax revenue.
In 2018, the American Lung Association in Utah will continue pushing to increase the sales age for tobacco products to 21, and to maintain or even increase funding for the Utah Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.