New Report: Georgia Lags Behind Nation in Tobacco Control Policies; Experts Recommend Focus on Raising Tobacco Tax to Save Lives

Georgia received all failing grades for tobacco control policies in 22nd annual “State of Tobacco Control” report; American Lung Association outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco use

According to the American Lung Association’s 22nd annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, Georgia continues to lag behind the rest of the country in policy efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The state received all failing grades on this year’s report. The findings underscore the need for Georgia policymakers to focus on raising the tobacco tax, which is the second lowest in the country at 37 cents per pack.

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.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Georgia and across the country, claiming the lives of 11,690 state residents each year,” said Danna Thompson, director of advocacy at the American Lung Association in Georgia. “The tobacco industry will do anything to protect their profits at the expense of Georgia lives, so we must push forward in our efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”

Thompson added: “We continue to work with state policymakers to focus on increasing the tax on tobacco products, which is the second lowest in the country at just 37 cents per pack. 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 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about 4 percent among adults and about 7 percent among youth. Georgia should increase its tax by $1.50 per pack.”

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 2024 report, Georgia received the following grades:

  1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F*
  2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade F
  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 

To address the toll of tobacco use in Georgia, the Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by local elected officials:

  1. Increase the cigarette tax to the current average cigarette tax and equalize taxes for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes;
  2. Increase funding for the Georgia tobacco prevention and control program; and
  3. Oppose all forms of preemption of local tobacco control authority.

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**

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.

Get involved and help the mission of the American Lung Association. The Fight For Air Climb Atlanta at Promenade Tower is coming up on April 20. Learn more at ClimbAtlanta.org.

*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.

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

For more information, contact:

Victoria O'Neill
(312) 273-5890
[email protected]

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