Report Gives Hawaii Failing Grade for Flavored Tobacco Product Policies

American Lung Association report reveals best and worst states for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco in Hawaii
Hawaii received an F grade for failing to have active state policies that restrict flavored tobacco according to the American Lung Association’s 21st annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today. Overall, the state earned mixed 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 1,420 Hawaii residents each year.

“While Hawaii has been a leader in tobacco control in the past, with model smokefree air policies and leading the nation on raising the minimum age of tobacco sales to 21, it lags behind when it comes to restrictions on flavored tobacco products. We know that flavored tobacco restrictions are one of the best ways to reduce youth tobacco use, including vaping,” said Pedro Haro, Executive Director at the American Lung Association in Hawaii. “With 23.2% of Hawai‘i high school students using a tobacco product, we must do all we can to reduce tobacco use amongst our youth.”

Hawaii’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, Hawaii received the following grades: 
1.    Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade C
2.    Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade A
3.    Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade C
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 Hawaii’s policymakers to focus on ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. According to the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2.5 million high school and middle school students use e-cigarettes, and more 85% of those kids use flavored e-cigarettes. In addition, menthol cigarettes continue to be the major cause of tobacco-related death and disease in communities of color. Ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, will not only help end youth vaping, but will also help address the disproportionate impact of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars have on many communities, including Black Americans, LGBTQ+ Americans and youth.  

“Many of the tobacco control policies that Hawaii has championed in the past were first passed and tested at the county level. However, in 2018 the state legislature limited the tobacco control policies that could be adopted by county governments,” added Haro. “We really need the Hawaii legislature to pass comprehensive restrictions on flavored tobacco or return the abilities for counties to act to solve the youth vaping epidemic.”

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.
 
For more information, contact:

Hawaii Media Contact

[email protected]

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