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Feds, Most States Fail to Protect Public from Tobacco-Related Illnesses, Group Says

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The federal government and most U.S. states have failed to adopt policies that would protect the public from tobacco-related illnesses, according to a new ’report card’ from the  American Lung Association.

The State of Tobacco Control report gave the federal government “F” grades on three critical measures: regulation of tobacco products, coverage of cessation products, and taxation — and a “D” grade for ratification of an international tobacco-control treaty.

The group said that Congress failed to pass a measure that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco products, does not require state Medicaid programs to cover smoking-cessation treatment (although the Medicaid prescription-drug benefit does cover cessation products), and has set the federal tobacco tax at a very low 39 cents per pack. The report also chided the Bush administration for failing to submit the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to the Senate for ratification.

States were judged based on their adoption of smokefree legislation, higher cigarette taxes, support of tobacco prevention and control programs, and coverage of cessation treatments. No states received “A” grades, while seven states — Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia — received “F”s.

Only Alaska and Delaware received “A”s for funding tobacco prevention and control in line with recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia were the only states to raise cigarette taxes in 2008, and only Iowa and Nebraska passed smokefree legislation.

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