Georgia Lags Behind Nation in Policy Efforts to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use

Georgia Lags Behind Nation in Policy Efforts to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use
Georgia 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 state earned mostly failing grades on this year’s report.

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 11,690 Georgia residents each year.

“Georgia lags behind when it comes to tobacco control policies, and as a result, we have higher than average adult smoking rates at 15% and 21% of high school students use a tobacco product,” said Danna Thompson, Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association in Georgia. “This gives us an important opportunity to improve the health of our state through proven policies, such as strengthening the Georgia Smokefree Air Act to include smokefree protections for all workplaces and public places, including bars, restaurants and gaming establishments, as well as significantly increasing the state tobacco tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.”

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

This year’s report noted the need for Georgia policymakers to focus on ensuring all Georgia residents and workers are protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke by closing the gaps in Georgia’s smokefree air law. 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 gaming establishments 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.

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, including e-cigarettes. Multiple studies have shown that every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about 4% among adults and about 7% among youth. Georgia has not significantly increased its tobacco tax since 2003 and should increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with a parallel increase on other tobacco products.



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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