The District Named One of the Best States in Nation for Policies to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use Including Flavored Tobacco Products Policy and Having Highest Tobacco Taxes in the Nation

American Lung Association report reveals best and worst states for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco in the District
The District is one of the best states in the nation for policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use, according to the American Lung Association’s 21st annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today. The District earned mostly A’s on this year’s report and receives a thumb’s up for funding the law that removes flavored products from the market as well as for having the highest cigarette tax in the nation. Advocates find there is still more work to be done to save hundreds of lives here in the District.

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 790 District residents each year.

“Last year we were pleased to see the DC Council pass the Local Budget Act and the Budget Support Act which provided funding in the city budget to implement a law removing flavored tobacco products. As a result, the District’s ‘State of Tobacco Control’ flavored tobacco products grade improved from an ‘F’ to an ‘A’,  said Aleks Casper, Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association in the District. “While this is important progress, more support is needed to ensure this law and all tobacco related laws are implemented and enforced in an equitable way as too many District residents are impacted by tobacco use - like the 9.5% of adults who smoke and the 17.2% of high school students who use tobacco.” 

“The District also showed significant improvement in access to cessation services and moved from a ‘C’ to a ‘B’. We are urging lawmakers to continue to improve these policies by enhancing Medicaid coverage for tobacco cessation treatments to be comprehensive and consistent across plans,” added Casper.

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, the District 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 A
4.    Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade B
5.    Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade A

This year’s report noted the need for District policymakers to focus on:

Implementing and enforcing all tobacco related laws including the recent law removing all flavored tobacco products from the market in a consistent and equitable way. 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. Removing flavored tobacco products from the shelves, 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.

Increasing funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs. An investment in prevention is especially important given the ongoing youth vaping epidemic. Despite receiving $63.1 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the District only funds tobacco control efforts at 27.4% 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. 
 
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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