‘State of Tobacco Control’ Report: Colorado Must Prioritize Public Health over the Tobacco Industry
Colorado earns mixed grades, Lung Association calls on state officials to pass a law to license tobacco retailers and help prevent tobacco sales to kids in 2020 to end youth vaping epidemic and save lives
(January 29, 2020) - DENVER
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Today, the American Lung Association released the 18th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, which finds that in 2019 Colorado earned mixed grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes. The American Lung Association finds opportunities in 2020 for Colorado officials to take action and pass a law to license tobacco retailers and help prevent tobacco sales to kids in order to support public health and save lives in 2020.
The need for Colorado to take action to protect youth from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is more urgent than ever, with the youth vaping epidemic continuing its alarming rise to 27.5% or more than one in four high school students. This is a staggering 135% increase in high school e-cigarette use in just the past two years, and close to three million more kids started vaping in that time period, setting them up for a lifetime of addiction.
“In Colorado, our tobacco use rates remain at 20.2%. Sadly, with the youth vaping epidemic still rising, we may have lost an opportunity to make the current generation of kids the first tobacco-free generation. Tobacco use is a serious addiction and Colorado needs to implement the proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use outlined in ‘State of Tobacco Control’,” said JoAnna Strother, advocacy senior director for the Lung Association.
The 18th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that while Colorado has taken a significant step to reduce tobacco use, including removing preemption which now gives cities and counties the authority to protect their citizens and pass local tobacco control laws, elected officials should do more to save lives and ensure all Colorado 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 B
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade F
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade A
- Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F
The American Lung Association encourages Colorado to put in place all the public policies called for in “State of Tobacco Control,” and in particular, this year’s report noted the need to focus on passing a law to license tobacco retailers and help prevent tobacco sales to kids.
One powerful tool to address the youth vaping epidemic is increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. The U.S. Congress finished off 2019 with a huge victory passing a federal law to increase the national tobacco sales age to 21. This law will ensure that all states have a sales age of 21 in 2020 but without a tobacco retailer license the law will be difficult to enforce.
However, Congress failed to pass legislation to eliminate all flavored tobacco products, making the need for state action to end the sale of all flavored products critical. Massachusetts took that historic step by prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes in November 2019, becoming the first such state to do so. The Lung Association urges more states to follow Massachusetts’ lead and pass comprehensive laws eliminating flavored tobacco products in 2020.
The question remains, will 2020 be the year that public health is prioritized over tobacco product manufacturers so that another generation is spared the addiction to dangerous tobacco products? As the result of successful lawsuits filed by the American Lung Association and several public health partners, FDA will be required to take several important and long overdue actions to protect the public health from tobacco products in 2020. These include finalizing graphic warning labels on all cigarette packs by March 15, and requiring all e-cigarette, and most cigar, hookah, pipe and other manufacturers of deemed products to submit applications to FDA by May 12, 2020 to remain on the market in the U.S.
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 312-445-2501.
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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