New Report: South Carolina Must Focus on Increasing Funding for Tobacco Control to Save Lives

South Carolina lags behind country in 22nd annual “State of Tobacco Control” report; American Lung Association outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco use

A new report from the American Lung Association urges South Carolina lawmakers to focus on increasing funding for tobacco control to reduce the burden of tobacco use. The 2024 “State of Tobacco Control” report, now in its 22nd year, evaluates state and federal policies on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use and recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives. South Carolina received four “F” grades and one “B” grade for policies to improve statewide efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use.

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in South Carolina and across the country, claiming the lives of 7,230 residents each year. The tobacco industry will do anything to protect their profits at the expense of South Carolinians, so we must push forward in our efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use,” said Danna Thompson, director of advocacy at the American Lung Association in South Carolina. “This year, we are working with state policymakers to focus on increasing funding for tobacco control and are asking for a $5 million increase in the state budget.”

South Carolina receives $226.9 million in tobacco revenue annually from tobacco settlement payments and taxes combined. Yet the state currently invests $5 million in tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is only 9.8 percent of the $51 million the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that South Carolina spend to combat the health and economic consequences of tobacco. Increasing funding to $10 million recurring, as well as investing all $11 million from the Juul settlement, is a vital first step to protect our South Carolina youth from the dangers of tobacco.

South Carolina’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 2024 report, South Carolina received the following grades:

  1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F*
  2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade F
  3. Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
  4. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade B
  5. Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F 

To address the toll of tobacco use in South Carolina, the Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by local elected officials:

  1. Increase state funding for the tobacco prevention and control program and ensure that funding is spent according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs;
  2. Strengthen tobacco retail licensing laws, including electronic cigarette retailers; and
  3. Increase the cigarette tax to the current average cigarette tax and equalize taxes for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

Federal Grades Overview

This year’s report focuses on recent federal actions, including President Biden’s failure to finalize rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, as well as FDA’s overdue review of all applications for e-cigarette products, including flavors that are popular among youth. Because of the delay on the federal rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, it is even more important for states to enact laws to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

The 2024 “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**

The Lung Association calls on the White House to urgently finalize rules to end the sales of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars in the U.S. to save lives now. Send an email to President Biden at Lung.org/Stop-Menthol to insist these rules be finalized urgently. To learn more about this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades and take action, visit Lung.org/sotc.

Get involved and help the mission of the American Lung Association. Lip Sync for Lungs Live Battle VIII: Totally ‘80s! at Charleston Music Hall is coming up on February 29. Learn more at LipSyncForLungs.org.

*State Funding for Tobacco Prevention Programs grades in “State of Tobacco Control” reflect actions taken by elected officials and do not reflect on the hard work of state tobacco control programs or advocates.

**FDA remains grossly overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute, which is why it earns an “incomplete.” 

For more information, contact:

Victoria O'Neill
(312) 273-5890
[email protected]

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