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

  1. Restore funding in the 2019-2020 budget for statewide tobacco control programs
  2. Support legislation to remove local preemption language for smokefree laws; and
  3. Build momentum on the importance of raising the retail sales age of tobacco products to 21 years old.
Unfortunately, during the 2018 legislative session, state funding for tobacco education programs within the Tennessee Department of Health was stripped from the state budget. Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement funds were deleted from the program and diverted to non-tobacco related projects. Restoring funding in the 2019-2020 budget for statewide tobacco control will be a top priority.

While efforts to remove preemption of local smokefree ordinances in Tennessee failed in 2018, the American Lung Association in Tennessee and our health advocate partners will work to further engage with the Tobacco Free Tennessee Coalition in a broad education effort about county and municipal government support for local options. With a newly-elected governor, and likely changes in legislative leadership positions, a strong strategic public education campaign will be critical.

As Medicaid expansion in Tennessee continues to evolve, the Lung Association will be actively engaged in the process to minimize barriers to tobacco cessation-related coverages.

Also, in 2018 the University of Tennessee Knoxville joined the University of Tennessee Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis in going smokefree in all locations on campus. UT Knoxville's policy includes cigarettes, vapes and e-cigarettes.

The American Lung Association in Tennessee will continue to work with our many health coalition partners and others and will work to grow and activate our grassroots network statewide, to advance tobacco control and prevention initiatives at the state and local levels. As the legislature begins its work in 2019, the Lung Association will continue our efforts to educate policy makers, business leaders and the media on the importance of the Lung Association's goals to reduce tobacco use and protect public health

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