Colorado has a Mixed Record in Passing Policies to Reduce Tobacco Use, Save Lives, Finds New American Lung Association Report
2018 ‘State of Tobacco Control report encourages Colorado lawmakers to increase tobacco tax
(January 24, 2018) -
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The American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of Tobacco Control” report shows that Colorado earned mixed grades for its tobacco policies. The 16th annual report, which grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, finds that while Colorado has taken steps to protect residents from secondhand smoke, the state needs to do more, including increase the tobacco tax, strengthen laws around youth access to tobacco and add electronic smoking devices to the state’s smokefree laws.
“Nationwide, smoking rates have continued to decline to historically low levels, yet tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease killing over 480,000 Americans each year,” said Ellen Penrod, executive director of lung health programs for the American Lung Association in Colorado. “Tobacco use is a serious addiction, and the fact that nearly 16 percent of adults in Colorado are current smokers highlights how much work remains to be done in our communities to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”
Colorado’s mixed grades in this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” show that progress can be made, although more must still be done by Gov. John Hickenlooper and state legislature to decrease tobacco usage rates and save lives:
• Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade D
• Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade A
• Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
• Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade B
• Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F
The American Lung Association in Colorado calls on state and local policy makers to act on the following priority areas in 2018:
• During the 2017 legislative season, the Colorado Tobacco Free Alliance, of which the American Lung Association in Colorado is a member, successfully defeated to bills that attempted to weaken Colorado’s protections from secondhand smoke and emissions from electronic smoking devices. In 2018, the American Lung Association encourages Colorado lawmakers to include electronic smoking devices in the state smokefree law, following the 20 local Colorado communities in adopting such law.
• Local communities have, and continue to, lead the way in lowering rates of tobacco use, including expanding smokefree laws to include more areas and adding electronic smoking devices, requiring a license to sell tobacco, raising the age minimum age of sale to 21 and increasing the price of tobacco. The American Lung Association in Colorado encourages more communities to follow suit and pass such laws.
• The American Lung Association in Colorado and its partners will continue their education of Colorado residents for the need to raise the price of tobacco products – one of the best ways to reduce tobacco use. Colorado’s state tax is the 38th lowest in the country and, and in 2016, big tobacco companies spent more than $16 million to defeat a Colorado ballot measure that would have raised the price of tobacco and saved lives.
“We know how to reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and protect the health of all Americans,” Penrod said. “Colorado elected officials must act to implement these proven policies, which will prevent tobacco-caused death and disease, and help keep our lungs healthy.”
About the American Lung Association in Colorado
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit the newly redesigned website: Lung.org.