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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in South Carolina. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by South Carolina's elected officials:

  1. Oppose all forms of preemption of local tobacco control authority;
  2. Defend state funding of $5 million for tobacco control programs and ensure that funding is spent according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs; and
  3. Support the licensing of all tobacco retailers, including electronic cigarette retailers.

The South Carolina 2021 legislative session saw legislation introduced aimed at curbing youth tobacco use and legislation to stop local governments from passing laws to protect kids from becoming addicted to tobacco.

House bill 3754 and Senate bill 582 sought to establish licensing for retail sellers of tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes. Tobacco retail licensing reduces youth access to nicotine and tobacco through better compliance with laws that prohibit sales of all tobacco products to underage individuals. South Carolina is one of only 10 states that does not require a license for retail sales of tobacco products. These bills, along with Senate bill 6, prohibiting smoking in vehicles with persons under age 18, did not get a hearing in their assigned committees.

House bill 3681 and Senate bill 498, proposals supported by Big Tobacco, intended to strip away the right of cities and counties to pass laws that can help prevent and reduce youth tobacco use. Both bills sought to prohibit local authority to pass laws that address flavors, ingredients or licensing of tobacco products. H 3681 passed the House, and the bill was referred to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee. The chair of that committee chose to poll committee members on sending H 3681 to the full Senate instead of allowing committee meetings for discussion and public comment, a majority agreed. The legislative session ended with H 3681 on the contested calendar in the Senate.

The state budget was approved at the end of the session with state funding for the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at $5 million with funds from the tobacco tax. House and Senate leaders announced in September they would not be returning for a special session in 2021 unless it was for redistricting.

The American Lung Association in South Carolina continues to support licensing for all tobacco retailers. Education will continue to reinforce the importance of tobacco retail licensing and the need for a well-funded State Tobacco Prevention and Control Program in reducing rates of youth tobacco use. The American Lung Association calls on all state legislators to put South Carolina's children before tobacco industry profits and oppose all efforts to deny local governments the right to pass tobacco control ordinances stronger than state law.
South Carolina Facts
Economic Cost Due to Smoking: $1,906,984,487
Adult Smoking Rate: 18.1%
High School Smoking Rate: 5.9%
High School Tobacco Use Rate: 27.5%
Middle School Smoking Rate: 3.2%
Smoking Attributable Deaths per Year: 7,230

Adult smoking data come from CDC's 2020 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school smoking and tobacco use data come from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. Middle school smoking rate is taken from the 2017 Youth Tobacco Survey.

Health impact information is taken from the Smoking Attributable Mortality, Morbidity and Economic Costs (SAMMEC) software. Smoking attributable deaths reflect average annual estimates for the period 2005-2009 and are calculated for persons aged 35 years and older. Smoking attributable healthcare expenditures are based on 2004 smoking attributable fractions and 2009 personal healthcare expenditure data. Deaths and expenditures should not be compared by state.

South Carolina Information

Learn more about your state specific legislation regarding efforts towards effective Tobacco Control.

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