A nationwide survey of state anti-tobacco efforts conducted by the American Lung Association (ALA) gave failing grades to 40 states and the District of Columbia, Bloomberg reported Jan. 20.
The survey has been conducted by the ALA every year for nine years. This year, the survey report (PDF) focused on four areas: “cigarette taxes, smoking bans, tobacco-prevention spending and cessation coverage.” No state earned an “A” in all four categories, although Arkansas, Montana, Maine, Oklahoma and Vermont got passing grades. Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia flunked all four categories.
All told, 40 states and the District of Columbia were given “F’s” because they funded tobacco prevention at less than 50 percent of the levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to Bloomberg, an “F” was also given to 37 states for their “smoking-cessation coverage for Medicaid recipients and state employees.”
“Most of our states are failing miserably when it comes to combating tobacco-caused disease,” said Charles Connor, who is CEO of the American Lung Association. “Despite collecting millions of dollars — and in some cases, billions — in tobacco settlement dollars and excise taxes, most states are investing only pennies on those same dollars to help smokers quit and keep kids from starting.”
CDC estimates that 46 million Americans smoke, or about 20 percent of the population, and it kills about 443,000 people every year. The American Lung Association report said that tobacco-related illnesses and lost productivity cost the United States about $193 billion each year.
Unlike the states, the federal government earned passing grades in all four categories, and earned a “B” for the Food and Drug Administration’s work on regulating tobacco marketing under the 2009 law.