New Report: More Funding Needed to Protect Iowans From Tobacco
'State of Tobacco Control' report reveals mixed grades for Iowa
(January 30, 2019) - DES MOINES
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Today, the American Lung Association in Iowa released the 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" report, which revealed mixed grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use. The lack of progress on tobacco control efforts is largely attributed to the state's low tobacco prevention and control program funding.
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 Iowa 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 A
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade F
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade D
- Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F
The need for Iowa 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 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 Iowa, our smoking rates remain at 17 percent and tobacco use remains the state's leading cause of preventable death and disease, killing more than 5,000 people per year. We need to invest in proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use such as raising the tobacco tax and increasing funding for the Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control," said Beth Turner, manager of health promotions for the Lung Association.
The Lung Association encourages Iowa 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 passing legislation to raise the state tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack.
If Iowa 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 Iowa receiving $274 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the state does not fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC.
"This year marks the 20th anniversary of the largest legal settlement in U.S. history – the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Iowa 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 Turner.
Additionally, increasing tobacco taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, not only among low-income individuals but also for youth. Multiple studies have shown that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about four percent among adults and about seven percent among youth.
The 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" 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 Iowa end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease?
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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