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District of Columbia Earns Mixed Grades in Reducing Tobacco Use, Can Do More to Save Lives, Finds New American Lung Association Report

(January 25, 2017) -

The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” Report shows that the District of Columbia earned several strong grades on its tobacco policies, but could do more to save lives. The 15th annual report grades states and the federal government on policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The report shows most states and the federal government earned poor grades. 

In the District of Columbia, three important bills were passed by the city council and signed by the mayor with the intent to decrease youth tobacco use. The Sporting Events Smoking and Smokeless Tobacco Restriction Amendment Act of 2016 will prohibit smoking and smokeless tobacco from event sites. The District of Columbia also approved legislation to increase the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. However, the new law will only take effect if money is budgeted for its implementation in the 2017 budget. The third and final bill will prohibit the smoking of electronic cigarettes in all areas where smoking is currently prohibited by law, including public spaces and places of employment.          

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in our nation, and 16 percent of District of Columbia adults currently smoke,” said Deborah P. Brown, President and CEO, American Lung

Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use, what we need is District of Columbia policymakers to implement the policies and fully fund programs called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ that would save lives and protect kids from a lifetime of addiction.” 

The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failures of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use, and the report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous health toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. This year, the report has added a new grade on efforts to increase the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21.

“Close to 95 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21,” said Brown. “Increasing the minimum sales age of tobacco products to 21 will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives nationwide.” 

This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” finds the District of Columbia with mixed grades, which show that progress has been made, although more still must be done by our Mayor and Council to enact proven policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade A
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade B
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade C*
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade I*

C* = Due to current data on tobacco cessation coverage for District of Columbia employees being unavailable, the District of Columbia was graded based on cessation coverage under Medicaid and quitline investment per smoker only.

I* = The District of Columbia earns an I for Incomplete in this category, because legislation to increase the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 was approved by the city council/mayor, but has not yet taken effect.

The American Lung Association in the District of Columbia calls on its elected officials to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended level; amend the smokefree workplace law to place additional restrictions on hookah bars; and ensure funding is budgeted so the law increasing the sales age for tobacco products to 21 can take effect.

In this year’s “State of Tobacco Control,” the federal government earned an “F” for Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) Regulation of Tobacco Products. Although the American Lung Association applauds the release of the final rule that gave FDA authority over all tobacco products including e-cigarettes and cigars, the 2017 report recognizes the Obama Administration’s failure to proceed with other key initiatives including requiring graphic warning labels on cigarettes and the federal government’s failure to move forward on issuing a rule to end the sale of menthol cigarettes nationwide – despite the recommendations from an FDA expert advisory committee. 

Federal grades include a “C” for Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments, an “F” for the Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, including the Centers for Disease Control’s Tips from Former Smokers Campaign.

“It’s not a secret how to reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Brown. “District of Columbia elected officials must act to implement these proven policies that will save lives and prevent tobacco-caused 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 Communications Director Ewa Dworakowski at [email protected] or 717-541-5864 ext. 130. 

To view the report click here.



About the American Lung Association in the District of Columbia

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 (1-800-5864872) or visit:

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