American Lung Association 'State of Tobacco Control' Report: Montana Must Prioritize Public Health over the Tobacco Industry

Montana earns mixed grades in tobacco control report, Lung Association calls on state officials to clear the market of flavors and support cessation services to save lives

This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report from the American Lung Association calls for proven tobacco control policies in light of the fact that the country’s youth vaping epidemic worsened in 2019. This dire situation is a direct result of states and the federal government’s failure to enact policies called for in the report such as supporting tobacco cessation services and stronger federal oversight of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. 

This year’s 18th annual report finds Montana earned mixed grades on its policies to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes. Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year. The American Lung Association calls on Montana officials to support cessation services and clear the market of flavors to save lives.

The need for Montana to take action to protect youth from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is more urgent than ever, with the youth vaping epidemic continuing its alarming rise to 27.5 percent or more than one in four high school students. This is a staggering 135 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use in just the past two years, and close to three million more kids started vaping in that time period, setting them up for a lifetime of addiction.

“In Montana alone, there are more than 146,000 current smokers,” said Carrie Nyssen, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Montana. “And with the youth vaping epidemic still rising, we may have squandered an opportunity to make the current generation of kids the first tobacco-free generation. Tobacco use is a serious addiction, and Montana must prevent and reduce tobacco use.”

The 18th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use.

Montana’s Grades:

Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F

Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade A

Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F

Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade Incomplete*

Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F

*Montana earns an I for incomplete in this category because information on investment per smoker in the state quitline was not available when this report went to press.

The American Lung Association encourages Montana to put in place all the public policies called for in “State of Tobacco Control,” and this year’s report noted the need to focus on increasing funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs.

 “Despite Montana receiving over $109 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the state funds tobacco control efforts at only 40.4 percent of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to prevent tobacco use and help smokers quit their tobacco addiction, not switch to e-cigarettes.” said Nyssen.

“State of Tobacco Control” 2020 provides an important roadmap on how states like Montana and the federal government can put in place the policies proven to have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use. Now is the time for lawmakers in Montana to end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease,” said Nyssen. 

The question remains: will public health be prioritized over tobacco product manufacturers so that another generation is spared the addiction to dangerous tobacco products? As the result of successful lawsuits filed by the American Lung Association and several public health partners, FDA will be required to take several important and long overdue actions to protect the public health from tobacco products in 2020. These include finalizing graphic warning labels on all cigarette packs by March 15, and requiring all e-cigarette, and most cigar, hookah, pipe and other manufacturers of deemed products to submit applications to FDA by May 12, 2020 to remain on the market in the U.S. 

For media interested in speaking with an expert about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact Holly Harvey at [email protected] or 206-512-3292. 

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