Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Iowa. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Iowa's elected officials:
- Increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack;
- Reduce exposure to secondhand smoke through comprehensive smokefree and tobacco-free laws and policies in all public places; and
- Increase funding to the Iowa Department of Public Health, Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control.
Other efforts in the 2018 legislative session included a bill to increase the minimum sales age of tobacco from 18 to 21. The bill also did not move forward. The American Lung Association in Iowa enters the 2019 Legislative session with a newly elected governor, Governor Kim Reynolds. Previously, Reynolds was appointed following the appointment of Governor Terry Branstad as Ambassador to China in 2017.
Iowans continue to face significant barriers to receiving tobacco cessation services. Iowans who rely on Medicaid for their healthcare coverage are members of Managed Care Organizations (MCO). People who want to quit using tobacco must go through their MCO to receive tobacco cessation services. MCOs require prior authorization for cessation medications. This can lead to delays in treatment and patients abandoning their plans to quit using tobacco as well as administrative burdens for physicians. These processes result in limiting Iowans' access to the resources they need to quit.
Community Partnerships continue to make a significant impact in every Iowa County. Local organizations provide support for youth prevention, tobacco cessation and policy change to reduce tobacco use and eliminate exposure of secondhand smoke. Continuing to protect and working to increase funding for these effective programs is vital in efforts to prevent youth from ever starting to use tobacco products in the first place and help current users quit.
On July 1, 2018, Iowa celebrated 10 years smokefree as a state. Although this victory is one to be celebrated, our state still has much more work to do. In 2019, the American Lung Association in Iowa, along with our partners, will advocate for an increase in the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack and ask that a portion of the new revenue go to tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The Lung Association will also continue to advocate for closing loopholes in the Smoke Free Air Act, as casino workers and patrons continue to be put at serious health risks due to secondhand smoke exposure because smoking is still allowed in Iowa casinos
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