American Lung Association 'State of Tobacco Control' Report Finds Alabama Must Do More to Prevent, Reduce Tobacco Use
Alabama earns F in smokefree air protections, Lung Association calls officials to pass a comprehensive statewide smokefree law to save lives
(January 30, 2019) - BIRMINGHAM, Ala.
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Tobacco use remains the nation's leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year. This year's "State of Tobacco Control" report from the American Lung Association finds Alabama earned failing grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use. The American Lung Association calls on Alabama officials to pass a comprehensive statewide smokefree law in order to save lives.
The need for Alabama to take action to protect youth from tobacco is more urgent than ever, with youth e-cigarette use reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. This equals one million additional kids beginning to use e-cigarettes, placing their developing bodies and lungs at risk from the chemicals in e-cigarettes as well as a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product. This has caused the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in an Advisory issued in December 2018.
"In Alabama, our smoking rates remain at 20.9 percent. Tobacco use is a serious addiction and we need to invest in the proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use outlined in "State of Tobacco Control'," said American Lung Association Director of Advocacy, Ashley Lyerly. "The report provides a roadmap on how to save lives, but much work remains to be done in communities across Alabama to prevent and reduce tobacco use."
The 17th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that elected officials must do more to save lives and ensure all Alabama residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade [F]
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade [F]
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade [F]
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade [F]
- Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade [D]
The American Lung Association encourages Alabama to fully fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC, and in particular, this year's report noted the need to focus on comprehensive smokefree air protections.
The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and if Alabama would pass a comprehensive smokefree law that eliminates smoking in all public places and workplaces, workers across the state would benefit. This health protection would benefit everyone and is especially critical for those who work in the service and manufacturing sectors who are often exposed to secondhand smoke daily. "Opportunities for better health begin where people work, live and play, and a person should not have to be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke to put food on the table," said Lyerly.
Local municipalities continue to take the lead on public health issues by implementing strong smokefree ordinances. The cities of Luverne and Sheffield were public health leaders in passing smokefree air ordinances in 2018 to protect their workers and residents from exposure to secondhand smoke.
If Alabama would increase funding for tobacco control programs, they would have a powerful opportunity to help further reduce and prevent tobacco use, including supporting communities that still use tobacco at higher rates and who have been targeted by the tobacco industry. An investment in prevention is especially important given the skyrocketing number of youth who are using e-cigarettes. Despite Alabama receiving $300,200,000 from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the state does not fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "This year marks the 20th anniversary of the largest legal settlement in U.S. history – the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Alabama receives millions of dollars every year from this settlement, and we believe the funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to help smokers quit and prevent tobacco use," said Lyerly
"State of Tobacco Control" 2019 provides a blueprint that states and the federal government can follow to put in place proven policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the U.S. The real question is: Will lawmakers in Alabama end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease?"
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] or 470-233-7030.
About the American Lung Association
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 coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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