State Inaction, Tobacco Industry Tactics Slowing Tobacco Control Efforts: Report

State inaction, coupled with a tobacco industry determined to maintain its market share, are slowing efforts to reduce the number of smokers in the United States, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

“We are faced with a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry that’s determined to maintain its market share at the expense of our kids and current smokers,” Harold Wimmer, the group’s President and CEO, said in a statement. “In the absence of any meaningful action by state and federal policymakers, an ever-changing Big Tobacco will continue to gain more customers unless our nation’s leaders step up to fund programs and enact policies proven to make tobacco history.”

The American Lung Association notes states spent $485.5 million on programs designed to reduce tobacco use in 2013, up from $462.5 million in 2012. Only Alaska and North Dakota funded tobacco control programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, 40 states and the District of Columbia failed to fund their tobacco prevention programs at even half of the recommended level, HealthDay reports.

Last year, only Massachusetts and Minnesota approved significant increases in cigarette taxes, and no state approved a comprehensive smoke-free workplace law. North Dakota was the only state that passed a comprehensive smoke-free law in the past three years.

Tobacco companies are working around anti-smoking laws by aggressively marketing other tobacco products, such as cigars and smokeless tobacco, the report notes. They are also promoting e-cigarettes. None of these products have federal oversight. The Food and Drug Administration is considering regulating e-cigarettes.

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