New Report: Alabama Must Focus on Proven Tobacco Control Policies to Save Lives

Alabama lags behind country in 22nd annual “State of Tobacco Control” report; American Lung Association outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco

According to the American Lung Association’s 22nd annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, Alabama continues to lag behind the rest of the country in policy efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The state received all failing grades on this year’s report. The findings underscore the need for Alabama policymakers to focus on proven tobacco control policies, such as strengthening state and local smokefree air laws as well as instituting a comprehensive tobacco retail licensing program.  

The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policies on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use and recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Alabama and across the country, claiming the lives of 8,650 state residents each year,” said Ashley Lyerly, senior director of advocacy, Alabama at the American Lung Association. “The tobacco industry will do anything to protect their profits at the expense of Alabama lives, so we must push forward in our efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”

Lyerly added: “This year, we are working with state policymakers to pass a comprehensive tobacco retail licensing program to ensure enforcement and compliance with all tobacco control statues. Rigorous enforcement of tobacco control laws is critical to minimizing the accessibility of tobacco products and, ultimately, reducing youth tobacco use.”

Alabama’s Grades

The “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. In the 2024 report, Alabama 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
     

To address the toll of tobacco use in Alabama, the Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by local elected officials:

  1. Implement a comprehensive tobacco retail licensing program to ensure enforcement and compliance with tobacco control statutes;
  2. Pass comprehensive local smokefree ordinances that protect all workers and patrons from secondhand smoke; and
  3. Ensure access to comprehensive quit tobacco coverage for Medicaid recipients.

Federal Grades Overview

This year’s report focuses on recent federal actions, including President Biden’s failure to finalize rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, as well as FDA’s overdue review of all applications for e-cigarette products, including flavors that are popular among youth. Because of the delay on the federal rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, it is even more important for states to enact laws to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

The 2024 “State of Tobacco Control” report grades the federal government in five areas:

  • Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products – Grade C
  • Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments – Grade D
  • Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
  • Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use – Grade: A
  • Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Incomplete**

The Lung Association calls on the White House to urgently finalize rules to end the sales of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars in the U.S. to save lives now. Send an email to President Biden at Lung.org/Stop-Menthol to insist these rules be finalized urgently. To learn more about this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades and take action, visit Lung.org/sotc.

*State Funding for Tobacco Prevention Programs grades in “State of Tobacco Control” reflect actions taken by elected officials and do not reflect on the hard work of state tobacco control programs or advocates.

**FDA remains grossly overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute, which is why it earns an “incomplete.” 

For more information, contact:

Victoria O'Neill
(312) 273-5890
[email protected]

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