While Smoking Rates Decline Nationwide, Texas Lags Behind in Efforts to Reduce Tobacco Use, Save Lives, New American Lung Association Report Finds
2018 ‘State of Tobacco Control report finds Texas lawmakers can do more to reduce tobacco use by restoring funding for prevention and cessation programs
(January 24, 2018) -
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The American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of Tobacco Control” report, which grades states and the federal government on policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use, gave Texas failing marks in each of its five categories. The 16th annual report encourages state policymakers to restore funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs that was cut for 2018 and 2019, pass comprehensive local smokefree ordinances and increase the minimum legal sales age of tobacco products to 21.
“Nationwide, smoking rates have continued to decline to historically low levels, yet tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease killing over 480,000 Americans each year,” said Katie Jones, executive director of American Lung Association in Texas – Houston. “Tobacco use is a serious addiction, and the fact that 14 percent of adults in Texas are current smokers highlights how much work remains to be done in our communities to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”
This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” notes that while there have been local victories—with San Antonio passing the state’s first Tobacco 21 law and Fort Worth adopting a comprehensive indoor smokefree law—Gov. Gregg Abbott and the state legislature are failing to enact proven policies that will reduce tobacco us and exposure to secondhand smoke and save lives:
• 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 F
The American Lung Association in Texas calls on state policy makers to act on the following priority areas in 2018 to meet state goals:
• There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and if Texas would continue to pass local comprehensive smokefree law that eliminates smoking in all public places and workplaces, workers across the state would benefit. This is especially critical for those who work in the service and manufacturing sectors who are often exposed to secondhand smoke daily. A person should not have to be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke to put food on the table.
• The American Lung Association recommends that Texas restores funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs that was significantly cut for 2018-2019. Funding is needed for communities that still use tobacco at higher rates and who have been targeted by the tobacco industry.
• Tobacco is a highly addictive product, and close to 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette by the age of 21. More must be done to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use in Texas, and one powerful tool is increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21. In fact, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) found increasing the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer – the nation’s leading cancer killer.
“We know how to reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and protect the health of all Americans,” said Holly Motteram, executive director of the American Lung Association in Texas – Dallas. “Texas elected officials must act to implement these proven policies, which will prevent tobacco-caused death and disease, and help keep our lungs healthy.”
About the American Lung Association in Texas
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 (1-800-586-4872) or visit the newly redesigned website: Lung.org.