New Report: Pennsylvania Earns Mostly Failing Grades for Tobacco Control Policies; Experts Recommend Focus on Closing Clean Indoor Air Loopholes, Expanding State Funding for Tobacco Control ProgramsAmerican Lung Association “State of Tobacco Control” report releases Pennsylvania grades for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco
HARRISBURG, PA | January 24, 2024
Today, the American Lung Association released the 22nd annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, which finds that Pennsylvania received three F and two D grades for efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use. This year’s report noted the need for Pennsylvania policymakers to focus on closing the loopholes in the Commonwealth’s Clean Indoor Air Act and expanding tobacco prevention and cessation program 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.
“Tobacco use is the leading cause of death in Pennsylvania and across the country and takes the lives of 22,010 state residents each year. The tobacco industry will do anything to protect their profits at the expense of Pennsylvania lives, so we must push forward in our efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use,” said Aimee Van Cleave, Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania. “This year, we are working with state policymakers to focus on closing the loopholes in the Clean Indoor Act to prohibit smoking in all workplaces, including bars and casinos and expanding state funding for tobacco control programs.” and”
Priority Calls to Action:
Close the loopholes in the Clean Indoor Act with a comprehensive smokefree 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 casinos, would protect workers across the Commonwealth from deadly secondhand smoke.”
Increase funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs. Despite receiving $1,540,000,000 from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Pennsylvania only funds tobacco control efforts at 13.4% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Lung Association urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Governor Josh Shapiro legislature to increase funding for this critical program to reach more Pennsylvanians -particularly youth and rural communities- and ultimately, to save lives,” said Van Cleave.
End the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. We know that kids are attracted to flavored e-cigarettes (the Pennsylvania high school tobacco use rate is 19.7%), and that menthol cigarettes continue to be the major cause of tobacco-related death and disease in Black communities, with over 80% of Black individuals who smoke using them. Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, will not only help end youth vaping, but will address health disparities.”
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, Pennsylvania received the following grades:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade D
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade D
- Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F
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*
*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.
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.
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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