Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in the District of Columbia. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in the District of Columbia calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Increase the tobacco tax by $2.00 per pack;
- Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and
- Allocate funding for the implementation of the city's Tobacco 21 law.
The City Council began its fall 2017 session with the bill introduction of the Department of Health Cessation Fund Amendment Act of 2017. If passed, this bill would increase the DC tobacco tax by $2.00 per pack, designate 10 percent of total revenue for tobacco control programs such as the Quitline, and allocate funding to implement Tobacco 21 legislation passed in the 2016 council year. The American Lung Association in the District of Columbia hopes for swift passage of this strong legislation that would help smokers quit and prevent youth from picking up the addiction.
Passed in 2016, both the Electronic Cigarette Parity Amendment Act of 2016 and the Sporting Events and Smokeless Tobacco Restriction Act of 2016 took effect. The Electronic Cigarette Parity Amendment Act of 2016 included electronic cigarettes and other ENDS products in the smokefree indoor air law. The Sporting Events and Smokeless Tobacco Restriction Act of 2016 prohibits the use of smokeless tobacco products at stadiums and sporting events in the District of Columbia, including at Nationals Park.
Presently, the District awaits appropriation of funds to implement the Prohibition Against Selling Tobacco Products to Individuals Under 21 Amendment Act of 2015. This bill passed in 2016, amends the current District law to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to those under 21 years of age. Presently, the law prohibits the sale of cigarettes to those under 18 years of age. The new law will only take effect though if money is budgeted for its implementation in the 2018 budget.
The American Lung Association in the District of Columbia will continue to educate lawmakers on the ongoing fight against tobacco in 2018. Our goal is to build champions within the city council and a groundswell of advocates to advance our goals: increase the tobacco tax by $2.00 per pack, adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and ensure the new Tobacco 21 law is fully implemented.