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

  1. Increase the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21 years old;
  2. Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended level; and
  3. Increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack or more and equalize taxes on tobacco products to the cigarette tax.
The 2018 legislative session was the second year of the 49th General Assembly of Delaware's two-year session. In 2018, the American Lung Association in Delaware was successful in fighting back an attempt to put a cap on cigar taxes in Delaware. House bill 417 would have set an artificial and unjustified given the public health dangers limit on cigar taxes of 50 cents per cigar. The bill was moved out of the House Committee on Revenue and Finance without recommendation but stalled out after that in the House Committee on Appropriations.

While there was discussion prior to the 2018 legislative session amongst the Lung Association and other public health partners about introducing a bill to increase the tobacco sales age to 21, the decision was made to postpone this effort. The Lung Association and partners are poised to move forward with a Tobacco 21 campaign in 2019.

The Delaware Health Fund is where tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) dollars received by the state have been directed since within the first few years after the MSA was negotiated 20 years ago in 2018. Delaware has been one of the few states to largely keep promises made at the time and use the money for health-related purposes. Total tobacco prevention and cessation funding, which comes from this Fund, remained about the same as the previous year at close to $6.3 million in fiscal year 2019. However, this amount of funding is lower than historical levels, and the Lung Association believes funding for this vital program needs to be increased.

The American Lung Association in Delaware will continue to educate lawmakers on the ongoing fight against tobacco. Our goal is to build champions within the legislature and a groundswell of advocates to advance our goals, including funding to prevent our youth from starting to smoke as well as helping individuals who want to quit to do so and increasing the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 years old

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