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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Arkansas. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Arkansas' elected officials:

  1. Increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products by $1.00 per pack or more;
  2. Maintain current level of funding for the state's tobacco prevention and cessation program, including the Arkansas Quitline;
  3. Strengthen and remove the current exemptions in the state's clean indoor air act to protect all workers in the state from secondhand smoke.
Although the 2018 Session was focused on state fiscal matters, comprehensive tobacco prevention and control legislation was once again not a priority for the members of the Arkansas Legislature. The Arkansas Legislative Council challenged the contract and funding for the Arkansas Quitline that provides cessation counseling and medications to Arkansas residents. With education and advocacy from partners statewide, the Arkansas Quitline was approved for a short-term extension to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the cessation program.

The American Lung Association in Arkansas continues to serve as the lead agency for the statewide tobacco control coalition. The coalition provides support for local tobacco control efforts including; smokefree municipal policies, smokefree/tobacco-free workplace polices and smokefree multi-unit housing policies and implementation. In partnership with tobacco prevention partners, the American Lung Association in Arkansas continued to educate about the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure and the need for comprehensive smokefree policies in all public places and workplaces, including bars and gaming facilities, and the use of electronic smoking devices at the local level.

In 2019, the American Lung Association in Arkansas will continue to educate state legislators about the benefits of comprehensive tobacco control policies and programs, including a comprehensive statewide smokefree law and maintained funding for the tobacco control program. In order to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use in Arkansas, state legislators will need to recognize the health and economic burden of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke by enacting public health protections and investing in evidence-based tobacco prevention programs

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