American Lung Association's 2024 'State of Tobacco' Report Reveals Alarming Impact of Tobacco, Urges White House to Act on Menthol Cigarettes

The American Lung Association’s 2024 “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, reveals the continued devastation of tobacco use, including menthol cigarettes, on individuals and families across the country, and underscores the urgent need for the White House to finalize the rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars to save lives.

The 22nd annual “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal efforts to eliminate tobacco use and save lives with proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies. This year’s report highlights the public health perils of menthol tobacco use and the failure of the White House to finalize the rules to end menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars in 2023.

“It is unacceptable that after decades of research and proven tobacco control efforts, tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. Tobacco use is responsible for 480,000 deaths each year, including 45,000 Black individuals. Right now, President Biden can take action and save lives if he finalizes the rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Menthol cigarettes make it both easier to start and harder to quit by reducing the harshness of the smoke and cooling the throat. Once these rules are final, fewer people will start smoking, millions will begin their journey to quit and lives will be saved,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “We know that the tobacco industry will do anything to protect their profits at the expense of public health, so the White House must focus on implementing lifesaving policies and push back against the industry’s delay tactics.”

Federal Grades Overview
The federal section of the report highlights the failure of the Biden White House to finalize rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars in December 2023, the continued delay of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to complete its review of pre-market tobacco product applications and the beginning of meaningful enforcement against illegal e-cigarette products.

In the “State of Tobacco Control” report, the Lung Association identified four key actions for the Biden administration and Congress to take in 2024 that will help ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use:  

  • The White House must finalize the rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars; 
  • FDA must finalize premarket review and work with other federal agencies to remove all illegal e-cigarettes and other flavored products from the marketplace;
  • Congress must maintain or increase current funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Office on Smoking and Health; and
  • Congress must pass H.R. 4775, the Helping Tobacco Users Quit Act, bipartisan legislation giving more people access to the resources they need to quit tobacco.

The 2024 “State of Tobacco Control” report grades the federal government in five areas:

  • Federal 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 finalizing the Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute, which is why it earns an “incomplete.” 

State Grades Overview
The 2024 “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:

  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – 16 states and Washington, D.C. earned “A” grades
  • Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – 45 states earned “F” grades
  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – 41 states and Washington, D.C., earned “F” grades
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes – 31 states earned “F” grades
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – 20 states and Washington, D.C. earned “A” or “B grades

Best Graded States

  • California: Tobacco Program Funding: C, Smokefree Air: A, Tobacco Taxes: C, Access to Cessation: A, Flavored Tobacco Products: B
  • District of Columbia: Tobacco Program Funding: F, Smokefree Air: A, Tobacco Taxes: A, Access to Cessation: B, Flavored Tobacco Products: A
  • Massachusetts: Tobacco Program Funding: F, Smokefree Air: A, Tobacco Taxes: B, Access to Cessation: B, Flavored Tobacco Products: A

Worst Graded States

  • Alabama and Georgia rated the worst in the nation, scoring Fs in all five categories
  • Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia received 4 Fs and 1 D grade

The report finds that federal, state and local governments need to do more to stand up against the tobacco industry and reduce tobacco use, especially among youth. We cannot afford to lose another generation to tobacco-caused addiction, disease and death.

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.

To learn more about this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades and take action, visit Lung.org/sotc.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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