Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma lawmakers to raise cigarette taxes
(January 24, 2018) -
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The American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of Tobacco Control” report shows that Oklahoma earned mixed marks 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 Oklahoma elected officials must do more to save lives, including maintain dedicated funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs and pass a comprehensive statewide smokefree law.
“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 Terri Bailey, executive director of the American Lung Association in Oklahoma. “Tobacco use is a serious addiction, and the fact that nearly 20 percent of adults in Oklahoma are current smokers highlights how much work remains to be done in our communities to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”
Oklahoma’s mixed grades in this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” show that progress can be made, although more still must be done by Gov. Mary Fallin and the state legislature to decrease tobacco usage rates and save lives:
• Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade D
• Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade D
• 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 Oklahoma calls on state policy makers to act on the following priority areas in 2018 to meet state goals:
• Increasing tobacco taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, not only among low-income individuals but also for youth. An increase in price would prevent nearly 32,000 Oklahoma children from starting to smoke, prompt nearly as many adults to quit and prevent approximately 18,000 tobacco-related deaths.
• There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and workers across Oklahoma would benefit from a comprehensive smokefree law that eliminates smoking in all public places and workplaces. This is especially critical for those who work in the service and manufacturing sectors who are often exposed to secondhand smoke daily. A person should not have to be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke to put food on the table.
• Increased funding for Oklahoma tobacco control programs would be a powerful opportunity to host these programs to communities that still use tobacco at higher rates and who have been targeted by the tobacco industry.
• Nearly seven out of ten smokers want to quit, but tobacco use is a serious addiction and quitting can be difficult. Evidence suggests that the number of people quitting smoking increased when coverage for tobacco treatments provides access to all seven FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications and all three forms of counseling without barriers, such as copays and prior authorization. Oklahoma lawmakers have a powerful opportunity to help smokers quit and reduce disparities in tobacco use by covering all quit smoking treatments in its Medicaid program. Medicaid enrollees smoke at a rate almost three times as high as those with private insurance.
“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,” Bailey said. “Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma
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.