The annual American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control report just came out and it begs the question: Are tobacco control policies getting more effective?
The report raises alarming concerns regarding the increase of the youth smoking population inside the U.S. and it points out that even though there have been improvements by regulators in this sector, with a 42% decline in high school smoking rates since 2011, the use of tobacco products is still prevalent.
With one in four high school students in the United States smoking, including e-cigarettes, it makes us wonder what the consequences might be for these future adults’ health.
According to the report, 480,000 Americans die every year due to tobacco use, with another 16 million suffering from a disease inflicted by tobacco. The researchers also make a direct correlation to the national economy, stating that the costs involved with tobacco consumption are now approximately $289 billion, including medical costs and lost productivity.
The American Lung Association and its partners call the state regulators to start putting measures in place in order to achieve the following necessary goals: reducing the overall smoking use to less than 10% by 2024, protecting all Americans from secondhand smoke by 2019 and eliminating the death and disease inflicted by tobacco use.
On a positive note, the report mentions a return of tobacco tax increases for eight states in particular: Alabama, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Furthermore, Florida, Montana, Ohio, and Oklahoma managed to exponentially increase their resources for tobacco prevention and cessation programs for 2017. New Orleans has also set an all-time record by becoming the first city in the U.S. to eliminate smoking from all casinos and to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes.
However, on the downside, we should note that no state was able to pass a comprehensive non-smoking law and significant progress still remains to be seen.
California was once a leader in tobacco prevention measures, but now it seems it is lowering the pace and letting other states take the lead on this one. The situation in New York State is none the better. If last year it received a “D” for tobacco control measures, now it is failing in two categories: “access to cessation services” and “tobacco prevention and cessation funding.”
In the case of New York State, another big issue is that even though they have the highest cigarette tax in the whole nation, they are using only 19% of what is recommended to spend on prevention and control programs.
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