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

  1. Support local comprehensive smokefree laws covering age-restricted venues, including e-cigarettes;
  2. Increase funding for the state tobacco prevention and cessation program to $13 million, allocate the $13 million in Juul settlement funds the state will receive over 6 years to the state program and ensure that funding is spent according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs; and
  3. Require all tobacco retail businesses to obtain licenses, provide for and fund specific enforcement measures and establish a meaningful penalty structure for underage sales violations.
With the support of the Lung Association and partner organizations, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation in 2022 to allow local governments to adopt smokefree ordinances covering age-restricted establishments such as music venues and bars, thereby helping close a significant loophole in the state’s smokefree workplaces law.

Nashville became the first metropolitan area in Tennessee to pass an ordinance, with certain exemptions, in 2022. In 2023, on a unanimous vote and with no exemptions, Hendersonville became the first non-metropolitan community to pass the smokefree ordinance. A campaign is now underway in the neighboring Sumner County city of Gallatin, as well as in Knoxville and Memphis. The Lung Association will continue to support these and other smokefree proposals in communities across the state.

Also in 2023, the 113th session of the Tennessee General Assembly adjourned, failing to advance any of a variety of tobacco bills establishing penalties on youth for purchase, use and possession of tobacco products on school campuses and, separately, to establish disparate taxes for various tobacco and nicotine products. All of these bills were strongly opposed by the Lung Association and partner organizations.

The Lung Association and partner organizations were also successful in defending funding for the Tennessee tobacco use prevention and control program at $2 million. During the November 2023 Governor’s Budget Hearings for FY 2024-2025, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Alvarado presented a budget request that included an incremental $2 million for vaping prevention program expansion. The Lung Association was pleased to see this proposal and will work with lawmakers in the upcoming session in strong support of this additional funding.

As the legislature begins its work in 2024, the Lung Association will continue its efforts to educate policymakers, business leaders and media on the importance of the American Lung Associations goals to reduce all tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, and to protect public health.

Tennessee Facts
Healthcare Costs Due to Smoking: $2,672,824,085
Adult Smoking Rate: 18.50%
High School Smoking Rate: 4.90%
High School Tobacco Use Rate: 20.70%
Middle School Smoking Rate: N/A
Smoking Attributable Deaths per Year: 11,380
Adult smoking data come from CDC's 2022 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school smoking and tobacco use rates are taken from the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. A current middle school smoking rate is not available for this state.

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.

Tennessee Information

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

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