20th Annual ‘State of Tobacco Control’ Report Reveals Georgia Still Lags

New report outlines path to end tobacco use and save lives

The American Lung Association’s 20th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, reveals significant progress in the work to end tobacco use, but products like e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, create concern for losing another generation to nicotine addiction. However, the report finds that Georgia earned failing grades on passing policies to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.

The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policymakers on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use, the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. The report recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives. The 2022 “State of Tobacco Control” reveals that the country has made substantial progress in advancing tobacco control policies over the past 20 years, including comprehensive smokefree laws in more states, increased tobacco taxes across the nation and more Americans with access to treatments to help them quit smoking through state Medicaid programs.

Here in Georgia in the last 20 years, there have been some strides to reduce tobacco use, like local comprehensive smokefree air laws and an increase in tobacco taxes, however, there is more work to be done. The smoking rate is still 15.8%, and the high school tobacco use rate is 21%.

“While we have seen progress in Georgia, tobacco use remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 11,690 lives each year,” said Lance Boucher, Division Assistant Vice President for the American Lung Association.  “And our progress on tobacco control policy has not been equal. We continue to see the unequal burden of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in communities experiencing health disparities.”

Georgia’s Grades
“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. Georgia received the following grades:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade D
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade F
  • Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products   - Grade F

This year’s report noted the need for Georgia policymakers to focus on expanding Medicaid to provide quality and affordable healthcare to over 269,000 Georgians. This coverage would increase access to quit-smoking treatments for Georgia residents, as Medicaid expansion plans are required to cover preventive services, including cessation treatment without cost-sharing. States that have expanded their Medicaid programs to 138% of the federal poverty level, approximately $2,525/ month for a family of three, have seen measurable increases in quit attempts among Medicaid enrollees.

Another important policy for Georgia lawmakers to focus on is increasing tobacco taxes. One of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, not only among low-income individuals but also for youth, is to significantly increase the tax on all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Multiple studies have shown that every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about 4% among adults and about 7% among youth. Georgia has not significantly increased its tobacco tax since 2003 and it is now the second lowest in the nation.

“To protect kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction, the Lung Association in Georgia encourages the state to increase cigarette taxes by $1.54 per pack and equalize the tax on other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars with its cigarette tax,” said Lance Boucher.

 

Federal Grades Overview
“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 also grades the federal government in five areas:

  • Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products (2022 grade – D)
  • Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments (2022 grade – D)
  • Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes (2022 grade – F)
  • Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use (2022 grade – A)
  • Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 (2022 grade – I*)

* The Incomplete grade is for the FDA being more than 18 months overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute.

“In 2022, Georgia needs to redouble its efforts to pass the proven policies called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ to help end tobacco use. We cannot afford to wait 20 more years and allow another generation to suffer from tobacco-caused addiction, disease and death,” said Dr. Rabih Bechara, Local Leadership Board Chair for Georgia for the American Lung Association and Professor of Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine.

For media interested in speaking with an expert about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected]  or 704-818-4138.

For more information, contact:

Jill Smith
704-818-4138
[email protected]

Asthma Basics Workshop - National
, | Apr 17, 2024
Asthma Basics Workshop - National
, | May 07, 2024