DES MOINES , IA | January 25, 2022
The American Lung Association’s 20th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, finds that Iowa received mostly failing grades on passing policies to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.
The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policymakers on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use, the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. The report also recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives.
Here in Iowa in the last 20 years, lawmakers have made significant strides to reduce tobacco use like passing the Smokefree Air Act and increasing the minimum legal sale age to purchase tobacco to 21, however, there is more work to be done. The adult smoking rate is still 15.8%, and the high school tobacco use rate is 22.7%.
“While we have seen considerable progress in Iowa, tobacco use remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 5,070 lives each year,” said Kristina Hamilton, advocacy director at the Lung Association. “And our progress on tobacco control policy has not been equal. We continue to see the unequal burden of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in communities experiencing health disparities.”
“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. Iowa received the following grades:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
- Strength of Smokefree Air Laws – Grade A
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade F
- Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F
This year’s report noted the need for Iowa policymakers to focus on closing loopholes in the Smokefree Air Act and increasing funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs.
“The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Hamilton. “Iowa’s smokefree law could be more comprehensive by eliminating smoking in casinos, which would protect workers across the state from deadly secondhand smoke. E-cigarettes should also be defined and taxed as tobacco products.”
Hamilton added: “Despite receiving $265,200,000 from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Iowa only funds tobacco control efforts at 17.1% the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Lung Association believes the funds 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.”
Federal Grades Overview
Nationally, the report reveals significant progress in the work to end tobacco use, but products like e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, create concern for losing another generation to nicotine addiction.
“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 also grades the federal government in five areas:
- Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products (2022 grade – D)
- Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments (2022 grade – D)
- Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes (2022 grade – F)
- Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use (2022 grade – A)
- Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 (2022 grade – I*)
*The Incomplete grade is for the FDA being more than 18 months overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute.
“In 2022, Iowa needs to redouble its efforts to pass the proven policies called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ to help end tobacco use. We cannot afford to wait 20 more years and allow another generation to suffer from tobacco-caused addiction, disease and death,” said Hamilton.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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