New Report Reveals Washington, D.C. Must Focus on Tobacco Flavor Removal Law Enforcement to Save Lives from Tobacco Use

American Lung Association “State of Tobacco Control” report releases District grades for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco

Today, the American Lung Association released the 22nd annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, which finds that Washington, D.C. received one F grade, three A’s and a B for efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use. This year’s report noted the need for District policymakers to focus on providing support to enforce the existing law removing flavored tobacco products from the market and other tobacco related laws as well as funding tobacco prevention and control programs at the levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of death in the District and across the country and takes the lives of 790 residents in the District each year. The tobacco industry will do anything to protect their profits at the expense of District lives, so we must push forward in our efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use,” said Aleks Casper, Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association in Washington, D.C. “This year, in addition to calling on policymakers to provide support to implement the law removing all flavored tobacco products from the market and ensure that all tobacco law within the district are enforced consistently and effectively.  We also encourage policymakers to fund tobacco prevention and control programs at the level recommended by the CDC.”

Priority Calls to Action:

Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. We must provide support to District lawmakers to implement the law removing all flavored tobacco products from the market and ensure that one agency within the District has oversight for tobacco enforcement. We know that kids are attracted to flavored e-cigarettes (the high school tobacco use rate in the District is 11.6%), and that menthol cigarettes continue to be the major cause of tobacco-related death and disease in Black communities, with over 80% of Black individuals who smoke using them. Ensuring the tobacco laws in the district are enforced in a consistent and equitable way will not only help end youth vaping, but will address health disparities.

Increasing funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs The District earned an F grade for tobacco prevention and quit smoking program funding. Despite receiving $61.5 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the District only funds tobacco control efforts at 27.4% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The Lung Association urges policymakers to increase funding for these critical programs.” added Casper.

Covering and providing services for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved quit smoking treatments for state residents. District. 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.”

Washington, D.C.’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, the district received the following grades:

  1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
  2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade A
  3. Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade A
  4. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade B
  5. Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade A
     

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*

*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.

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.

 

For more information, contact:

Valerie Gleason
717-971-1123
[email protected]

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