20th Annual ‘State of Tobacco Control’ Report Reveals Washington Lags Behind on Policies to Reduce Tobacco Use

New report reveals Washington tobacco control successes over past 20 years, and outlines path to end tobacco use and save lives.

The American Lung Association’s 20th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, 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. The report finds that Washington earned mixed 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 recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives. The 2022 “State of Tobacco Control” reveals that the country has made substantial progress in advancing tobacco control policies over the past 20 years, including comprehensive smokefree laws in more states, increased tobacco taxes across the nation and more Americans with access to treatments to help them quit smoking through state Medicaid programs. 

Washington has made some progress to reduce tobacco use, like protecting Washingtonians from secondhand smoke in work and public places. Other progress, including funding the state’s tobacco prevention and control efforts have been all but negated, so there is more work to be done. 

“While we have seen in Washington, tobacco use remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 8,290 lives each year,” said Carrie Nyssen, Senior Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association in Washington. “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.”

Washington’s Grades

“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. Washington received the following grades: 

1.    Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
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 F
5.    Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F

This year’s report noted the need for Washington policymakers to focus on increasing funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs. An investment in prevention is especially important given the ongoing youth vaping epidemic. 

“Despite receiving over $513 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Washington only funds tobacco control efforts at 5.3% of 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,” said Nyssen.

Lawmakers also have an opportunity to increase tobacco taxes. 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. “To protect kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction, the Lung Association encourages Washington to equalize the taxes of electronic cigarettes,”  said Nyssen.

Federal Grades Overview

“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, Washington 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 Nyssen.

For more information, contact:

Washington Media Contact

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