1. Address youth tobacco use by removing all flavored tobacco products from the market;
2. Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and
3. Improve the city's Medicaid coverage for tobacco cessation treatments to be comprehensive and consistent across plans.
During the 2019 city council session the American Lung Association in the District of Columbia along with a very active tobacco coalition which includes both community-based organizations and national health organizations began to lay the groundwork for a campaign to address youth tobacco use by removing all flavored products from the market in the city. On September 17, 2019 several members of the DC Council introduced legislation which will remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the marketplace, including kid friendly mint and menthol flavors. The Lung Association along with its partners continued to advocate for the inclusion of all flavored tobacco product into this legislation.
The Lung Association also advocated against an emergency bill that was introduced that in its original form would have created significant loopholes in the city comprehensive smokefree workplace law allowing for more businesses to apply for and receive exemptions. The bill was modified to only apply to one particular business at one identified location and unfortunately passed. However, the Lung Association received a commitment from several Councilmembers to address the exemption process in the coming sessions.
Funding for the city's tobacco control program remained at $1.9 million for fiscal year 2020. While the fact that funding for the tobacco control program is recurring due to last year's cigarette tax increase is a good thing, the amount remains far short of the CDC-recommended level. Given the youth e-cigarette epidemic and continued high use of cigars among high school boys, increased funding is a definite need.
The American Lung Association in the District of Columbia will continue to educate lawmakers on the ongoing fight against tobacco in 2020. Our goal is to continue to build champions within the DC Council and develop a grassroots advocacy network to advance our goals which include the removal of all flavored tobacco products from the marketplace in 2020.
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