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

  1. Maintain dedicated funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs;
  2. Pass a comprehensive statewide smokefree law that protects all workers and patrons from secondhand smoke; and
  3. Increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21.
During the 2018 legislative session, the American Lung Association in Oklahoma along with our partners worked to pass House Bill 1010, which included an increase in the price of cigarettes by $1.50 per pack. The final version of the bill included a $1.00 increase in the cigarette tax, which was passed by the legislature and enacted by Gov. Mary Fallin. This is a big victory for the Lung Association and its public health partners in Oklahoma and should spark significant declines especially in youth smoking rates and initiation. After the 2018 legislative session, an attempt was made by anti-tax organizations to repeal the tax package that included the cigarette tax increase by ballot measure in November 2018, but thankfully the effort to put it on the ballot did not succeed. An increase in price provides big benefits to the state, including preventing nearly 30,000 Oklahoma kids from starting to smoke, prompting nearly as many adults to quit and preventing approximately 10,200 tobacco-related deaths.

Dedicated funding from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) for the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) remained intact for fiscal year 2019, despite several attempts during the 2018 legislative session to divert funding. Oklahoma voters made a wise decision by putting 75 percent of MSA payments each year into TSET, and the Lung Association will oppose any attempts to raid these funds by the legislature.

Program initiatives of TSET and the Oklahoma Department of Health to prevent and reduce tobacco use include the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, cessation systems grants, community grants covering over 85 percent of the state's population, funding for tribal nations and other priority populations and statewide media campaigns intended to change the social norms related to tobacco use.

Oklahoma remains one of 22 states that still does not have a comprehensive statewide smokefree law. In 2019, the American Lung Association in Oklahoma, along with public health partners, will continue to raise public awareness regarding the need for a comprehensive statewide smokefree law. The Lung Association will also continue to protect funding for TSET and the Oklahoma Department of Health

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