American Lung Association Releases 17th Annual Tobacco Report

Jan 31, 2019

The American Lung Association has released its 2019 "State of Tobacco Control" report.

The report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, tracking  progress on tobacco control policies.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is responsible for an estimated 480,000 deaths each year, with 27.1 percent of high school students using at least one tobacco product in 2018, up from 19.6 percent in 2017.

ALA's 17th annual tobacco report finds that the federal government is failing to act to protect kids from e-cigarettes and addiction to tobacco and its associated death and disease.

According to the report, no state is funding its tobacco prevention efforts at CDC-recommended levels, despite billions in revenue from tobacco taxes and ongoing payments from the 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.    

Thomas Carr, Director of National Policy for the American Lung Association, is the chief author of the tobacco report.   "States are by and large not doing what we know it takes to prevent and reduce tobacco. No state received all 'A' grades and four states received all 'F' grades. Six states had the best grades overall including New York's neighboring state of Massachusetts. Close to 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette before age 21, so the Lung Association wants to see states adopt laws to increase the tobacco sales to age 21 or Tobacco 21 laws nationwide. We saw some progress on this issue in 2018 with Massachusetts passing a Tobacco 21 law, and a previously passed law went into effect in the District of Columbia. Six states and DC total now have such laws."

Massachusetts and New Jersey received "A" grades for requiring tobacco buyers to be 21.

Michael Seilback is the ALA's National Assistant Vice President of State Public Policy.   "New York received a 'C' grade this year, which was an improvement from last year's 'D' grade. We continue to see a lot of progress on the local level to pass laws to raise the age of sales for tobacco products to 21 years old. In fact, about 76 percent of New Yorkers are covered by Tobacco 21 through local laws. But only with a strong statewide law, will New York receive an 'A' grade in this category and ensure that all New Yorkers are protected."

When it came to Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Funding, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania all got "F's." Vermont got a "D."

States are graded in five different categories. You can check your state's report card HERE.

This year no state earned an "A" in every category. ALA says identifies the "best states" as Alaska, California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine and Massachusetts.

The ALA further recommends New York license and tax electronic cigarettes.   Dr. Payel Gupta, an asthma and allergy specialist with ENT and Allergy Associates in New York City, cites a reported 78 percent increase in E-cigarette use among high school students from 2017 to 2018.   "More than one million additional kids started using e-cigarettes in the past year. This has led the U.S. Surgeon General to call e-cigarette use an 'epidemic' in December of 2018. While much remains to be determined about the lasting health consequences of e-cigarettes, there's evolving evidence about the health risks of e-cigarettes on the lungs.  And it doesn't look good. Some of the evidence includes a Surgeon General Report that concluded that second-hand emissions from e-cigarettes contain a dangerous cocktail of chemiclas including nicotine, ultra-fine particles, flavorings such as diacetyl, which is a chemical linked to serious lung disease, volatile organic compounds such as benzene and heavy metals such as lead. There are also studies that show adolescents and young adults are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction causing lasting adverse consequences on brain development."

The report (view it here)  identifies ways to protect everyone, including kids and those historically targeted by the tobacco industry, from the harms associated with tobacco use and secondhand smoke.