Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in South Carolina. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following three actions to be taken by South Carolina's elected officials:
- Increase the price of tobacco products to reduce tobacco use among youth and adults;
- Increase the number of comprehensive local smokefree air laws; and
- Increase funding for the state's tobacco prevention program.
The American Lung Association in South Carolina and partners in the South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative continue to support passage of smokefree air ordinances at the local level. The state has 65 local comprehensive smokefree air ordinances covering about 40 percent of the state's population. State funding for DHEC's Tobacco Prevention and Control programs remained at $5 million for fiscal year 2019. Tobacco industry supporters tried to attach an amendment to preempt local governments from regulating tobacco products in any form to the state budget bill toward the end of the 2018 session of the legislature, but it failed to gain traction. The Lung Association opposes tobacco industry attempts to preempt local elected officials from passing tobacco use prevention laws and policies..
The Lung Association is part of a growing number of organizations under the umbrella of the South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative to urge consideration of a significant increase in the state's 57-cent cigarette tax with comparable increases for other tobacco products. Significant increases in the price of cigarettes result in reductions in smoking especially among youth. The South Carolina 2017 Youth Tobacco Survey found that 1 out of 4 high school students currently use some form of tobacco. For the first time, current e-cigarette use (13%) surpassed conventional cigarette smoking (12%). In addition, current smokeless tobacco use has dramatically increased among females (6%). For middle school students 1 out of 10 currently use some form of tobacco. Current e-cigarette use (6%) nearly doubles conventional cigarette smoking (3%).
The American Lung Association in South Carolina will continue to advocate for comprehensive smokefree air ordinances, increased tobacco taxes and increased funding for the state tobacco prevention program
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