While Smoking Rates Decline Nationwide, New Hampshire Continues to Fall Behind, Failing to Reduce Tobacco Use, Save Lives, New American Lung Association Report Finds
New Hampshire report card consists of 3 F’s and 2 D’s, retaining title as Worst Performer in the Northeast
(January 24, 2018) - PORTSMOUTH, N.H.
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The American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of Tobacco Control” shows New Hampshire could have done more to save lives by implementing proven tobacco policies. The 16th annual report grades states and the federal government on policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that New Hampshire lags significantly behind the nation to reduce and prevent tobacco use, and state policymakers must do more to prevent the death and disease associated with tobacco use and save lives.
“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 Jeff Seyler, Executive Vice President of the American Lung Association, Northeast Region. “Tobacco use is a serious addiction, and the fact that 18 percent of New Hampshire adults 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” finds Governor Sununu and the state legislature are failing to enact proven policies that will reduce tobacco use, protect residents from exposure to secondhand smoke and save lives:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade D
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade D
- 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 New Hampshire calls on Governor Sununu and other state policymakers to work to strengthen and protect smokefree air laws; pass legislation to raise the minimum sales age for all tobacco products to 21; and support a cigarette tax increase of at least $1.00 per pack.
“The laws that protect the public from exposure to secondhand smoke in public spaces were under siege in 2017 – and that is just unacceptable,” said Lance Boucher, Director of Public Policy for the American Lung Association in New Hampshire. “Secondhand smoke is a risk factor for heart and lung diseases and can worsen existing health conditions. Everyone has the right to breath healthy air in public, and it is the job of New Hampshire policy makers to protect that right.”
A U.S. Surgeon General issued in 2006 states that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The New Hampshire legislature should not only protect the current smokefree air laws, but it should strengthen them by passing a comprehensive 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.
Sadly, the report also details that, as a result of decades of targeted marketing by the tobacco industry, too many Americans haven’t seen the benefits of reduced smoking rates, and New Hampshire and the federal government could do more to ensure all Americans benefit from tobacco control efforts.
According to the American Lung Association, 30% of New Hampshire high school students are using tobacco products. More must be done to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use in New Hampshire, 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.
In New Hampshire alone the tobacco industry spends $79.6 million in marketing their products with much of this geared toward young adults. By comparison – the state receives over $261 million in tobacco revenue but only spends $140,000 on tobacco prevention efforts. For every $1 spent combating the tobacco epidemic, the industry spends $568 to keep New Hampshire residents addicted and groom the next generation of smokers.
“Increasing the age of tobacco sales to 21 could prove to be an important piece in what we hope is a more sustainable and comprehensive approach to preventing youth from the dangerous path of nicotine addiction – indeed, it could lead to our current middle-school students becoming the first tobacco-free generation.” said Boucher. “Overall, New Hampshire has consistently failed to protect its public from tobacco-caused death and disease – but we hope that 2018 is the year we begin to turn that around.”
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 516-680-8927.
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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