New Tobacco Report Shows Opportunity for Arkansas, Need to Continue Tobacco Cessation Services

American Lung Association report reveals best and worst states for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco in Arkansas
Arkansas is listed as one of the states with the worst policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use, according to the American Lung Association’s 21st annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today. The report finds that Arkansas had minimal progress on passing policies to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.

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. This is critical, as tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America and takes the lives of 5,790 Arkansas residents each year.

“Arkansas lags behind when it comes to tobacco control policies, and as a result, we have higher than average adult smoking rates at 21.1% and 26.3% of high school students use a tobacco product,” said Laura Turner, Senior Manager, Advocacy at the American Lung Association in Arkansas. “This gives us an important opportunity to improve the health of our state through proven policies and initiatives such as the ‘Be Well Arkansas’ program.”

Arkansas’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 2023 report, Arkansas received the following grades:
  1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
  2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade C
  3. Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
  4. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade D
  5. Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F

“This year’s report noted the need for Arkansas policymakers to focus on passing a comprehensive smokefree law," shares Turner. “The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. 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 must also be included in comprehensive smokefree laws, given the harmful emissions that come from them.”

Additionally, an investment in prevention is especially important given the ongoing youth vaping epidemic. Despite receiving $281.3 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Arkansas only funds tobacco control efforts at 28.7% 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.

There are many resources dedicated to helping Arkansans quit tobacco use and prevent youth from initiating use. “Be Well Arkansas” is a program that links Arkansans to local resources they can use to improve their health and well-being. Arkansans who call the national Quitline are routed to “Be Well Arkansas” for resources to quit smoking, along with other disease management support.

Another important area for Arkansas policymakers to focus on is covering and providing services and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - approved quit smoking treatments for state residents. Nearly seven out of 10 smokers want to quit, but nicotine is highly addictive. Quitting is difficult and despite the high number of smokers that want to quit, only about 7% of them currently do. Arkansas lawmakers can help residents quit tobacco by covering all quit smoking treatments in its Medicaid program and for state employees. This should include access to all seven FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications and all three forms of counseling without barriers, such as copays and prior authorization. It’s also essential to increase the reach of the Arkansas Quitline or phone counseling service to help tobacco users quit.

Federal Grades Overview
The report also grades the federal government on their efforts to eliminate tobacco use. This year, there were new steps taken by the government to prevent and reduce tobacco use, including proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, Congress passing a law requiring the FDA to regulate tobacco products made with synthetic nicotine, and increased federal enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act. As a result of these steps forward, the federal government’s grade for “Federal Regulation of Tobacco Products” improved from a “D” grade last year, to a “C” grade in the 2023 report.

The 2023 “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

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

To learn more about this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades and take action, visit

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