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American Lung Association Issues 2016 ‘State of Tobacco Control’ Rhode Island Report Card

(February 3, 2016) -

Today, the American Lung Association released its 14th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report that finds that in 2015 Rhode Island had mixed results on tobacco control policies that will save lives. The report also finds that most states and the federal government earned poor grades, and the high level of youth use of tobacco products other than cigarettes threatens to undermine the United States’ overall progress in the fight against tobacco-caused death and disease.
“While we celebrate successful tobacco control policies in Rhode Island, we must also face the reality that young people are using tobacco products like e-cigarettes and little cigars at an all-time high,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Nearly a quarter of high school students nationwide are using tobacco products, and it is essential that Rhode Island take aggressive action to reduce all tobacco use – the #1 cause of preventable death and disease in our nation.”

The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failure of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use. The report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.

“State of Tobacco Control 2016” finds Rhode Island’s mixed grades show that progress is possible, although even more needs to be done by our Governor and State Legislature to pass proven policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:
• Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding – Grade F
• Tobacco Taxes - Grade B
• Smokefree Air - Grade A
• Access to Cessation Services - Grade D

The American Lung Association of the Northeast, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids oppose Governor Raimondo’s proposed 25-cent cigarette tax increase because it is too small to motivate smokers to quit or to prevent youth from starting to smoke.  In addition, not one cent of the new revenue would go to Rhode Island's woefully underfunded tobacco prevention and cessation programs that are proven to prevent kids from starting to smoke and help adult smokers quit. We would welcome the opportunity to work with the Governor and the legislature to craft a significant cigarette tax increase that would have a public health impact, and that dedicates a significant portion of revenue to support tobacco cessation and prevention programs.

The American Lung Association of the Northeast calls on Rhode Island to act on raising the price of cheap, flavored cigars and dedicate a portion of the additional tax revenue to fund the RI Tobacco Control Program, add e-cigarettes to Rhode Island’s smokefree laws and raise the minimum sale age for tobacco products to 21.

As of January 31, 2016, the Obama Administration had not yet given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight authority over all tobacco products including cigars, e-cigarettes, little cigars and hookah (commonly referred to as the deeming rule). The grade of “I” for Incomplete for FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products is assigned because the final rule is expected at any time. Other federal grades include a “C” for Federal Cessation Coverage, an “F” for Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, a new grading area in this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report.

“We know how to reduce tobacco use, it’s no mystery. High tobacco prices, smokefree environments, and robust tobacco control programs are the proven trifecta to lower smoking rates and save lives. And new data shows that raising the age of tobacco purchase from 18 to 21 will further lower smoking rates and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Karina Holyoak Wood, Director of Health Education and Public Policy in Rhode Island. “The ‘State of Tobacco Control’ Report Card for 2016 shows that Rhode Island’s elected officials can and must do more to save lives.”

For media interested in speaking with an expert about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected].

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