Delaware Among National Leaders in Policy Efforts to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use and One of Most Improved States in U.S. with Increased Funding for Tobacco Control Efforts

American Lung Association report reveals best and worst states for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco in Delaware
Delaware is one of the states with most improvement to prevent and reduce tobacco use, according to the American Lung Association’s 21st annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today. The state earned mostly passing grades on this year’s report and thanks to increased tobacco control funding by 2.5 million compared to last year, Delaware is a leader (along with Maine and Oklahoma) in making significant strides in tobacco control funding.

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 1,440 Delaware residents each year.

“Last year, we were pleased to see the state legislature pass a funding increase of close to $2.5 million for tobacco prevention and control programs which will help prevent youth from starting to use tobacco and help people quit for good. As a result, Delaware’s ‘State of Tobacco Control’ grade improved from ‘C’ last year to ‘A’ this year,” said Deb Brown, Chief Mission Officer, at the American Lung Association. “This is significant progress, however, there are still too many Delaware residents who are impacted by tobacco use, like the 13.4% of adults who smoke and the 19.4% of high school students who use tobacco.”

“In 2023, it is important that we continue to make strides forward and protect the steps already taken by  continuing to protect Delaware’s tobacco tax structure and defend any attempted rollbacks on specific products, as well as protect our recent increases in tobacco control funding to work towards achieving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended level,” Brown added.

Delaware’s Grades: 
The “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the Delaware in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. In the 2023 report, Delaware received the following grades: 
1.    Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade A
2.    Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade A
3.    Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
4.    Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade B
5.    Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F 

This year’s report noted the need for Delaware policymakers to focus on:

Continue the commitment of increased funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs. An investment in prevention is especially important given the ongoing youth vaping epidemic, despite the current increase, Delaware only funds tobacco control efforts at 82.1% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Lung Association believes funds from the tobacco tax settlement and tobacco taxes 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. 

One of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, not only among low-income individuals but also for youth, is to significantly increase the tax on all tobacco products and create parity among products.  Delaware’s tax structure was increased strategically in 2017, continuing to protect that tax structure by not allowing any roll backs on specific products is critical to reducing tobacco use in the state.  

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 Lung.org/sotc.
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