HARRISBURG, PA | April 5, 2022
On Tuesday, May 3, the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania will virtually host hundreds of youth and adult lung health and tobacco control advocates from TRU (Tobacco Resistance Unit) and PACT (Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco) at a Community Forum. The event includes legislative visits urging Pennsylvania lawmakers to close the loopholes in Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Act to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in the more than 1,373 establishments in the state with exemptions.
Advocates will also call on legislators to increase state funding for comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs that are critical to saving Pennsylvania lives, protecting our youth from a lifetime of tobacco addiction and reducing healthcare costs.
The Day at the Capitol is traditionally held at the State Capitol building in Harrisburg, PA. Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, recent years have been conducted virtually as will be the 2022 event, so that these important messages can be heard while protecting the health and safety of participants. The legislative visits will conclude with a Community Forum featuring advocacy, legislative and lung health expert speakers and is open to the public.
Why Do We Host a Day at the Capitol? To urge our legislators to help save lives.
Secondhand smoke is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths with about 140,000 deaths each year caused by smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year. “In Pennsylvania there are 1,353 establishments that are exempt from the Clean Indoor Act and continue to jeopardize the health and welfare of employees and patrons by allowing smoking in the facilities or grounds,” said American Lung Association Chief Mission Officer Deborah Brown. “Passing a comprehensive law that eliminates smoking, including e-cigarettes in all public places would benefit the health of all Commonwealth residents and protect workers across the state from deadly secondhand smoke.”
In Pennsylvania, our adult smoking rates are 15.8% and high school tobacco use rates are 26.7%, with an estimated 22,020 per year smoking attributable deaths in the state, and our youth are becoming the next generation addicted to tobacco with more than 2 million youth across the U.S. using e-cigarettes.
Despite Pennsylvania receiving tobacco related revenue of $1,663,100,000 annually from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the state funds tobacco control efforts at only 13.1% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“Pennsylvania’s tobacco settlement funds should be used to support the health of our communities by eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke, helping tobacco users quit and not switch to e-cigarettes, and preventing youth tobacco use.” said Brown. Continued youth vaping makes it more important than ever for Pennsylvania legislators to take significant steps to reduce tobacco use by maintaining state funding at the proposed amount of $15.549 million, along with seeking to increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.”
In Pennsylvania, smoking is estimated to cost over $6,383,194,368 in direct healthcare costs. Evidence based statewide tobacco control programs that are comprehensive, sustained and accountable have been shown to reduce tobacco use rates, as well as tobacco related disease and deaths.
Elijah Dourado, a senior at Laurel Springs Charter School in Luzerne County, will be participating in the event and said, “In Pennsylvania, due to tobacco and e-cigarettes exposure, 3,700 youth become daily smokers each year, one-third of those youth prematurely will lose their lives. I have witnessed friends and family who have never used tobacco products previously begin to use e-cigarettes because of the increased marketing.”
“As a resident of Pennsylvania, I do not want any of my friends or family to lose their lives prematurely due to tobacco and e-cigarette usage. Pennsylvania must increase the state funding for tobacco prevention and control programs because as it stands, it is only providing 13% of the amount the CDC recommends based on the size and population of the state,” said Dourado.
The Day at the Capitol virtual Community Forum will be held after the legislative visits on Tuesday, May 3, from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EST. Community members and media are invited to register to attend the virtual conference at PACTOnline.org.
Learn more about smokefree efforts in the Commonwealth in the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2022” report. For media interested in attending the virtual Community Forum or speaking with a youth ambassador or lung health expert, contact Valerie Gleason at 717-971-1123 or [email protected]
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 Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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