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American Lung Association Issue Tobacco Report

Many States Failing to Protect Public From Tobacco

NEW YORK, NY -- February 7, 2003 -- After obtaining more than $240 billion in tobacco settlements, most U.S. states have wasted the chance to fund comprehensive plans that protect the public from tobacco-related diseases, according to the first annual American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control Report. The report analyzes state laws and funding in four categories: smoke free air laws, tobacco program funding, tobacco taxes, and limiting youth access to tobacco. It evaluates state tobacco control laws against criteria adopted by the National Cancer Institute and translates each state's progress against tobacco into a letter grade from A (excellent) to F (inadequate).

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia received an "F" in smoke free air laws; 32 states and the District of Columbia received "Fs" in tobacco program funding; 17 received "F's" in tobacco taxes; and 28 received an "F" in laws limiting youth access to tobacco. Only four states--California, Maine, New York and Rhode Island--scored the highest achievement of two grades of "A". Only 18 states received an "A" for their laws in one of the categories.

Public Favors Tobacco Control Plans

A survey of U.S. adults shows that a majority support the use of tobacco control plans to reduce the death and disease caused by smoking:

  • About 73 percent want tobacco settlement money to fund comprehensive smoking prevention and cessation programs.
  • Eighty-eight percent believe they should be able to breathe smoke free air anywhere, including indoors.
  • Sixty percent favor a 50-cent increase in tax to reduce tobacco use, especially among youth.
  • Seventy-four percent favor further limits on youth access to tobacco products.

"Many states are turning their backs on measures proven to protect the health of their citizens," said John Kirkwood, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "We know we are not alone in our fight against the tobacco interests because the public also supports the protective actions we are trying to help initiate at the state level."

Smoking costs the United States approximately $150 billion each year in health-care costs and lost productivity. An estimated 440,000 American lives are claimed each year by smoking-related diseases, including almost 54,000 who die from exposure to secondhand smoke.

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