Report finds many states’ efforts to prevent tobacco use are lagging

WASHINGTON D.C. — Across the country, many states still have work to do to prevent tobacco use, according to a new nationwide report.

The American Lung Association reviews statewide policies every year and then grades which areas have the best and worst policies.

It shows states like California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C. have some of the best policies. While southern states like Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, and Texas have some of the worst. Florida received mostly failing grades with higher smoking rates for teens and adults

But the report shows not one state received straight A’s across the board.

“It’s truly tragic to see our nation losing another generation of kids to tobacco use,” said Erika Sward, National Assistant Vice President for Advocacy at the American Lung Association.

Sward said that’s one of the reasons why the association is still pushing for more tobacco prevention.

The annual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades statewide policies across five categories. They include prevention programs, smoke-free air policies, tobacco taxes, smoking recovery services, and whether states limit or prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products.

“Until flavored products are removed from the marketplace, we will continue to see kids attracted to them and ultimately picking them up and becoming addicted,” Sward.

Some tobacco companies said they support what they call science-based federal regulation.

Altria, the nation’s largest tobacco company, is one of them.

In a statement to the Washington News Bureau, the company said “Altria’s Vision is to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a smoke-free future. For us, Moving Beyond Smoking means advocating for a harm reduction future in which the industry is operating within science-based federal regulation, underage tobacco use continues to decline and adult smokers who don’t quit are transitioning to FDA-authorized, reduced-harm products.”

This report also offers some recommendations. This year, advocates want Congress to ban online sales of all tobacco products and for the FDA to fully Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

They’re also pushing for comprehensive smoke-free laws that would eliminate smoking in all public spaces and workplaces.

“We know that if states implement these policies, fewer people will become addicted and more people’s lives will be saved,” said Sward.

There are some new changes at the federal level too. The FDA is now required to regulate tobacco products made with synthetic nicotine.

You can view the full report here.

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