JACKSON, MS | January 26, 2022
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. The report finds that Mississippi 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 Mississippi in the last 20 years, local lawmakers have made significant strides to reduce tobacco use with the passage of comprehensive smokefree air ordinances in cities and counties across the state, however, there is more work to be done locally and statewide. The smoking rate is still 20.1%, and the high school tobacco use rate is 27.6%.
“While we have seen progress in Mississippi, tobacco use remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 5,410 lives each year,” said Ashley Lyerly, Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association in Mississippi. “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.”
“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. Mississippi received the following grades:
1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade F
3. Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
4. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade F
5. Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products - Grade F
This year’s report noted the need for Mississippi policymakers to focus on passing a comprehensive smokefree law for all workplaces and public places, including bars and casinos. While there has been tremendous progress locally to pass comprehensive smokefree air ordinances, there is a still a significant portion of workers and residents exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace.
“The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Ashley Lyerly. “Passing a comprehensive smokefree law that eliminates smoking in all public places and workplaces, including restaurants, bars and casinos, would protect workers across the state from deadly secondhand smoke. E-cigarettes should also be included in comprehensive smokefree laws.”
In addition, Mississippi needs to focus on maintaining funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs. An investment in prevention is especially important given the ongoing youth vaping epidemic.
“Despite receiving $250,600,000 from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Mississippi only funds tobacco control efforts at 27.5% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Lung Association believes the funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to prevent tobacco use and help people quit, and not switch to e-cigarettes. These programs are also critical for helping to end tobacco-related health disparities,” said Ashley Lyerly.
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, Mississippi 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 Lyerly.
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.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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