The American Lung Association has a proud history of safeguarding lung health. We were among the first to tackle smoking as the nation's greatest preventable health risk and to make the connection between air pollution and lung disease. With your help, we push for laws and policies that improve lung health for everyone. Here are some of our major victories.
Improving Lung Health
- Defending the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid
In 2017, the American Lung Association co-led the effort to protect the Affordable Care Act and its key patient protections from being repealed by the Congress. The Lung Association continues to lead the patient community in protecting Medicaid from attempts to undermine it and the care it provides for millions of Americans with lung disease.
- Lung Cancer Screening
In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Medicare) approved coverage for low-dose CT scans in high-risk Medicare beneficiaries. The Lung Association testified at a hearing to urge Medicare to cover the lifesaving scans, submitted detailed recommendations and launched an online petition where 17,000 people urged Medicare to cover this critical early detection method. Through additional requirements in the Affordable Care Act for private insurance plans, most Americans who are at high risk for lung cancer now have access to free annual screening.
- Funding for National Asthma Programs
The Lung Association has led the campaign to preserve and increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Asthma Control Program. We continue our leadership by working with champions on Capitol Hill to increase funding for state asthma programs, reducing asthma's terrible burden in our communities.
Making the Air Safe to Breathe
- Action on Climate Change
The Lung Association leads national health and medical organizations in highlighting the health impacts of climate change and advocating for climate action that protects everyone, especially people who live in communities that breathe unhealthy air pollution. We successfully advocated for the passage of strong climate protections in California, renewable energy standards in Michigan, and stronger emissions targets for the Northeast under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
- Cleaner Vehicles and Fuels
SUVs, trucks, buses, ships, locomotives and more are all much cleaner today than they were even a decade ago. The Lung Association advocated in support of stronger greenhouse gas standards for vehicles that EPA confirmed in 2017 and has worked to defend those standards in the years since.
- Cleanup of Coal-Fired Power Plants
The Lung Association helped put long-overdue rules in place to clean up coal-fired power plants, one of the nation's biggest sources of dangerous, widespread air pollution. We took legal action to support EPA's efforts to reduce pollution blown across state lines in a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2014, and are currently defending Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants from being undermined.
- Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act took effect in 1970, allowing the EPA to set national air quality standards. After two decades of persistent effort, we successfully convinced Congress to strengthen the Clean Air Act, requiring cities to enact specific air pollution control measures. A year later in 1991, we began our first legal challenges to require EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act requirements. Over the past three decades, Lung Association legal action and advocacy have resulted in more protective air quality standards as well as holding the federal government to its obligation to clean up pollution sources.
Eliminating Tobacco Caused Death and Disease
- Tobacco 21
The national age of sale for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes is now 21 as the result of a federal law in December 2019 for which the American Lung Association advocated. Nineteen states, and hundreds of communities previously passed Tobacco 21 laws, which helped lay the groundwork for this historic law.
- Smokefree Cities and States
Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and hundreds of cities have passed comprehensive laws prohibiting smoking in almost all public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars. We won't stop until everyone lives and works in a smokefree city or state.
- Tobacco Regulation
In 2009, the Lung Association played a key role in passing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over the marketing, sale and manufacturing of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The law will protect kids from the industry's predatory marketing efforts. We continue to play a leadership role in defending and implementing the law, including with our lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration to ensure key provisions of the law are applied to e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.
- Smokefree Flights
U.S. airline passengers breathe smokefree air as the result of groundbreaking legislation championed by the Lung Association and our partners. On February 25, 1990, all domestic flights of six hours or less became smokefree. The measure covered 99 percent of all flights in the U.S. Over the next decade, many airlines made all their flights smokefree. In 2000, Congress passed a law requiring all flights to and from the U.S. to be smokefree.
- 1964 Surgeon General Report on Smoking
The Lung Association was proud to stand with Surgeon General Luther Terry at the 1964 release of the first Surgeon General's report on smoking and health. This historic report linked smoking to lung cancer and lung disease for the first time.
Page last updated: November 17, 2022