DES MOINES, IA | January 24, 2023
Despite a small improvement in tobacco cessation access, Iowa still earned mostly failing grades on 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 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 more than 5,000 residents each year.
“We are pleased to see that Iowa is investing more money in helping people who smoke quit; however, the state still lags behind when it comes to tobacco control policies, and as a result, we have higher than average adult smoking rates at 14.6% and 22.7% of high school students use a tobacco product,” said Kristina Hamilton, advocacy director for the American Lung Association in Iowa. “With this year marking the 15th anniversary of the Iowa Smokefree Air Act, state lawmakers have a prime opportunity to finally close the loophole that allows smoking in casinos and take significant action to curb the use of newer tobacco products, like e-cigarettes.”
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, Iowa received the following grades:
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade A
- 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
This year’s report noted the need for Iowa policymakers to focus on maintaining funding for tobacco control funding, defining and taxing e-cigarettes as tobacco products, and closing the loophole for casinos in the Smokefree Air Act.
An investment in prevention is especially important given the ongoing youth vaping epidemic. Despite receiving 256 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Iowa only funds tobacco control efforts at 18% 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
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.
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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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