Colorado Earns Mixed Grades for Tobacco Control Policies in American Lung Association Report

American Lung Association report reveals best and worst states for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco in Colorado

Colorado is one of the states showing improvement in its policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use, according to the American Lung Association’s 21st annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today. 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 5,070 Coloradans each year.

“Colorado’s progress is thanks in large part to Proposition EE, the ballot measure overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2020 that raises taxes on tobacco products over time. As a result, Colorado’s ‘State of Tobacco Control’ grades for tobacco prevention funding and tobacco taxes improved from ‘F’ and ‘D’ last year to ‘D’ and ‘C’ this year,” said Nick Torres, advocacy director at the American Lung Association in Colorado. “This is important progress, and we should expect to see even more improvement as the law is fully implemented. However, there are still too many Coloradans who are impacted by tobacco use, like the 12% of adults who smoke and the 32% of high school students who use tobacco.”

Colorado’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, Colorado received the following grades:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade D
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade B
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade C
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade A
  • Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F

This year’s report noted the need for Colorado policymakers to continue work on ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, especially menthol cigarettes. Colorado missed an important opportunity in this area last year by failing to pass HB 22-1064. 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 Black communities, with over 80% of Black Americans who smoke using them. 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. 

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.

Media Resources:

For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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