American Lung Association releases State of Tobacco Control grades
A new report finds New York poised to lead the nation in policy efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use.
The American Lung Association’s annual “State of Tobacco Control” report shows New York positioned to solidify its leadership role on tobacco control policies. The 21st edition of the report grades all 50 states on their tobacco control efforts, from smoke-free workplace laws to tobacco taxes and prevention programs. New York’s mixed grades remained the same for the second year in a row, with tobacco use rates in decline.
Trevor Summerfield is ALA's Director of Advocacy in New York and Vermont. He says the report looks at five key areas the association believes will save lives.
"And those are funding for state tobacco prevention programs, the strength of smoke free workplace laws, level of state tobacco taxes, coverage and access to services to quit tobacco," Summerfield said. "So we're talking cessation programs in quit lines there, and finally ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products in New York State. The grades New York received did not change from last year when it comes to funding of tobacco prevention programs. The grade remains an F, smoke free workplace law policies remains with a grade A. Tobacco taxes Grade B, coverage and access to services to quit tobacco, a grade C on that, and ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products with a grade D."
Summerfield says New York is joined by Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in getting failing marks on funding of tobacco prevention programs. Grades for other categories improved or remained the same.
“Massachusetts has received a grade A for ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products," said Summerfield. "No other state in our region has that on the books. And that really is a great policy to prevent kids from picking up smoking in the first place. So Massachusetts did get a grade A there. New York did receive a grade D because we do prohibit the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes. But we have a lot of work to do when it comes to flavored tobacco products and other tobacco products. And then when you come to indoor air laws, the only difference there is that Connecticut did receive a grade C when most other states receive a grade A and that is because they have a preemption law on the books that prevents municipalities from taking further action to restrict sales and flavors, for instance, in their municipalities. And if they were to do that tomorrow, Connecticut would be bumped up to a grade A.”
Summerfield says tobacco use claims the lives of more than 28,000 New Yorkers every single year.
Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonary and critical care medicine physician based in Baltimore, instructs patients a change in attitude can lead to tobacco-cessation.
"I tell them, you got to stop focusing on this notion of quitting, and start thinking about yourself as a nonsmoker," said Galiatsatos, "Meaning, what does that mean if you're a nonsmoker? It should mean you have control over your cravings. You know how to ‘un-smoke,’ as you've learned how to smoke for years. The emphasis should be on becoming a nonsmoker, which is a permanent identity, beyond just quitting. People can quit thousands of times. If you truly achieve it, through new habits, through an understanding of yourself and why you smoke, you will become a nonsmoker. That's how I approach all my patients with the emphasis of an identity beyond just the action.”
The report also graded the federal government, giving an F to the level of federal tobacco taxes, about a dollar a pack. There is also no federal tax imposed on e-cigarettes. The government received an incomplete when it comes to the minimum age for buying tobacco because the FDA is overdue in publishing final regulations for setting age an 21 minimum. Federal mass media campaigns to prevent and reduce tobacco use did earn a grade A.
Here's a link to the “State of Tobacco Control” report, where you can check out your state’s grades.