Tennessee Lags Behind Nation in Policy Efforts to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use

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

Tennessee is listed as one of the states with the worst 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 mostly failing 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 11,380 Tennessee residents each year.

“Tennessee lags behind when it comes to tobacco control policies, and as a result, we have higher than average adult smoking rates at 19.7% and 27.9% of high school students use a tobacco product,” said Shannon Baker, Advocacy Director at the Lung Association in Tennessee. “This gives us an important opportunity to improve the health of our state through proven policies, such as increasing funding for the state tobacco prevention and cessation program.”

Tennessee’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, Tennessee received the following grades:

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

This year’s report noted the need for Tennessee policymakers to focus on allocating the $13 million in JUUL settlement funds the state will receive to the state tobacco use prevention and cessation program and ensure
that funding is spent according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Best Practices for
Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs; and requiring all tobacco retail businesses to obtain licenses, provide for and fund specific enforcement measures and establish a meaningful penalty structure for underage sales violations.

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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