20th Annual ‘State of Tobacco Control’ Report Highlights Connecticut’s Repeated Failure to Adequately Fund Tobacco Control Program

New report reveals Connecticut tobacco policy successes over past 20 years, and outlines path to end tobacco use and save lives

The American Lung Association’s 20th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today, reveals significant progress in the work to end tobacco use, but products like e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, create concern for losing another generation to nicotine addiction. The report finds that although Connecticut earned mixed grades, it maintained two “F’s” on tobacco control funding and its regulation of flavored tobacco products. 

The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policymakers on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use, the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. The report recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives. The 2022 “State of Tobacco Control” reveals that the country has made substantial progress in advancing tobacco control policies over the past 20 years, including comprehensive smokefree laws in more states, increased tobacco taxes across the nation and more Americans with access to treatments to help them quit smoking through state Medicaid programs. 

Here in Connecticut in the last 20 years, lawmakers have made significant strides to reduce tobacco use, including a robust clean indoor air act that protects people from secondhand smoke. However, there is more work to be done. The adult smoking rate is still 11.8%, and the high school tobacco use rate is 28.7%. Today, smoking costs the State over $2.03 billion and 4,900 Connecticut lives annually.  

“While we have seen considerable progress in Connecticut, tobacco use remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 4,900 Connecticut lives each year,” said Ruth Canovi, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Connecticut. “And our progress on tobacco control policy has not been equal. Last year we finally made some small progress on tobacco control program funding – but it needs to continue and grow if we truly want to help Connecticut residents – and especially youth – live healthier lives.”

Connecticut’s Grades 
“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. Connecticut received the following grades: 

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

This year’s report noted the need for Connecticut policymakers to focus – once again - on adequate and sustainable funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs. An investment in prevention is especially important given the ongoing youth vaping epidemic. 

“Despite receiving over $471 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes every year, Connecticut has yet to spend even $1 of these funds on tobacco prevention efforts in the last five years. Last year we celebrated the pledge of $1 million for tobacco control programming for 2023 – but this is still a far cry from the recommended annual $32 million by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The Lung Association calls on state lawmakers to dedicate sustainable and adequate funds to support the health of our communities, to prevent tobacco use and help people quit all tobacco products. These programs are also critical for helping to end tobacco-related health disparities,” said Canovi.

The American Lung Association applauds the progress Connecticut made in protecting residents from secondhand smoke. Connecticut’s B grade in Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws is the best the state has seen and brings it in line with its neighbors in the northeast.  Canovi continued, “The closing of most of the loopholes in our clean indoor air laws was a significant win for public health in Connecticut, one we had advocated for since the original law passed in 2003.  We will work to ensure the progress we have seen in our clean indoor air laws remain and that the protections available to employees continue.”

In addition to tobacco program funding, the report also highlights the importance of ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. According to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than two million high school and middle school students use e-cigarettes, and over 80% 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 nearly 81% 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
“State of Tobacco Control” 2022 also grades the federal government in five areas: 

  • Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products (2022 grade – D)
  • Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments (2022 grade – D)
  • Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes (2022 grade – F)
  • Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use (2022 grade – A)
  • Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 (2022 grade – I*)

* The Incomplete grade is for the FDA being more than 18 months overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute.

Canovi concluded, “In 2022, Connecticut needs to redouble its efforts to pass the proven policies called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ to help end tobacco use. We cannot afford to wait 20 more years and allow another generation to suffer from tobacco-caused addiction, disease and death.” 

For media interested in speaking with an expert about the “State of Tobacco Control” report, lung health, tobacco use and tobacco control policies, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 516.680.8927
 

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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