Every year the American Lung Association publishes their report card on the State of Tobacco Control for the U.S. Grades are given in four categories: tobacco prevention, smokefree air, cigarette tax, and cessation. Most of the states should be scared to take the grades home. Not one state made the honor roll (all “A’s”) or honorable mention (A’s and B’s). Even the Federal Government barely passed with an “F” in regulation of tobacco products and “D’s” in cessation coverage and cigarette tax. The U.S. also received a “D” under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control for its lack of measures taken toward the tobacco epidemic in the U.S. Kudos to Hawaii, the only state with all passing grades. They received a “C” in tobacco prevention, “A” in smokefree air, “A” in cigarette tax, and “C” in cessation. Hawaii may truly be a utopia when it comes to caring about the public’s’ health.
In the area of Tobacco Prevention, Alaska and North Dakota received an “A”. Alaska funds its tobacco control program at 110.5% of the CDC recommended level. North Dakota funds its program at 100.8% of the recommended level. Delaware is the only state to receive a “B” grade. Hawaii and Wyoming received “C’s”. Arkansas, Maine, Oklahoma and Vermont all received “D’s”. The remaining 41 states received an “F.” Florida, which received an “F” funds their programs at 32.0% of the CDC recommended level.
Smokefree Air had the most “A” grades with 25 states receiving a high grade. Six states received a “B,” including Florida, and six states received a “C.” Two states, New Hampshire and Oklahoma received a “D.” Eleven states received an “F”: Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Kentucky, one of the states receiving an “F” grade has no provision in place for child care facilities.
Five states get an “A” for their cigarette tax: Connecticut $3.40; Hawaii $3.20; New York $4.35 (the highest); Rhode Island $3.50 and Washington $3.025. Eighteen states received “B” and “C” grades and 12 states received a “D.” Fifteen states received an “F”: Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota,, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. It is surprising that North Dakota, which received an “A” in Tobacco Prevention and Smokefree Air would fall to an “F” in cigarette tax at only $0.44 per pack of 20. Virginia, a tobacco producing state, came in at $0.30 tax per pack of 20.
No state received an “A” or “B” grade in the Cessation category, which isn’t surprising, but it is sad. Six states received a “C” grade: Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. If states are going to tax cigarettes, shouldn’t money go towards helping smokers to quit? Twelve states received a “D” grade and the remaining 32 states received an “F”.
Eight states received all “F” grades: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The numbers from this report are startling. The economic impact due to smoking in Florida alone is $12,879,031,000 according to this report. Smoking rates have dropped, but we still have 10.1% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students smoking. Considering it is illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 18, or for anyone under 18 to possess tobacco, those numbers are too high. If tobacco prevention instruction would be mandatory every year in schools across the U.S. starting from kindergarten through grade 12, we could reduce the number of children who start smoking and using tobacco, possibly saving a generation from a tobacco epidemic. Here in Florida every teacher has the ability to take an online course (at no cost to them) and teach tobacco prevention to their students. Click here for the link to TobaccoPreventionTraining.
Every citizen deserves the right to breathe clean air at work or in public that is not filled with cancer causing chemicals from secondhand smoke. Here in Florida smoking is prohibited in most places with the exception of bars that make 10% or less of their sales from food. If preemption was repealed, Florida would receive an “A” grade in this category.
According to the report, the average state excise tax in the U.S. on January 1, 2013 was $1.49/pack. Florida is below the average at $1.339 per a pack of 20 cigarettes. Raising cigarette taxes reduces smoking, especially among our youth, according to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The Centers for Disease Control cites more than 80% of adults start smoking before they are18 years old. When New York City increased cigarette taxes, the smoking rate for public high school students dropped to 7% in 2010. Higher taxes would also persuade many adult smokers to quit smoking as well.
Cessation programs are available, but most states do not spend the recommended amount per each smoker. Florida spends approximately $4.46/smoker. The CDC recommends spending $10.53. Currently there is no private insurance mandate for cessation programs.