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New Report Reveals Lack of Progress for Nebraska Tobacco Control Efforts

Low tobacco tax, need for more funding to blame for failing grades

(January 30, 2019) - OMAHA

For more information please contact:

Jill Thompson
[email protected]
312-940-7001

Today, the American Lung Association in Nebraska released the 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" report, which revealed mostly failing 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 taxes and the need for increased funding for tobacco control programs.

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 Nebraska 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 F
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F

The need for Nebraska 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 Nebraska, our smoking rates remain at 15 percent and tobacco use remains the state's leading cause of preventable death and disease, killing more than 2,500 people per year. We need to invest in proven measures such as raising the tobacco tax in order to drive down smoking rates, prevent youth from becoming addicted, and generate funding for tobacco education and other crucial health programs," said Leah Martin, director of advocacy for the Lung Association.

The Lung Association encourages Nebraska 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 $1.00 per pack.

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.

"To protect kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction, the Lung Association encourages Nebraska to increase tobacco taxes by $1.00 per pack. This step is critical to our state as current tobacco use among youth is over 16 percent," said Martin.

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 Nebraska end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease?

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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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