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

  1. Enact legislation to raise the retail sales age of tobacco products to 21;
  2. Maintain past additional $1 million increase in tobacco control program funding; and
  3. Implement an excise tax on electronic cigarettes equal to cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The 2018 session of the Vermont legislature ended with a significant tobacco win with $1 million from a one-time tobacco Master Settlement Agreement payment that Vermont received in April due to settlement of a dispute over a portion of past MSA payments with tobacco companies being added to the fiscal year 2019 budget bill for the state's tobacco control program. This is the first increase to the tobacco control budget in ten years and the American Lung Association in Vermont and partners will look to sustain this increase in 2019.

The Vermont Department of Health will use most of the one-time appropriation to enhance mass-reach health communication interventions. These interventions will include a multi-media campaign to encourage adult cessation, misperceptions of the harm of JUUL and other electronic nicotine devices focused on youth and a new campaign based on formative research targeting women who smoke during pregnancy. Reducing smoking during pregnancy is a high priority for the state given the rate of smoking during pregnancy in Vermont is twice the national average.

The American Lung Association in Vermont will continue to work with our coalition partners including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and others to advance tobacco control and prevention efforts. As the legislature begins its work in 2019 we will continue to grow our coalition to educate policy makers, business leaders and the media of the importance of the American Lung Association's goals to reduce tobacco use and protect public health. A renewed effort by the Lung Association and partners to increase the minimum legal age of sale for tobacco products to 21 is likely in 2019

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