-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- State inaction and
tobacco industry tactics are slowing tobacco control efforts in the
United States, a new report from the American Lung Association
"We are faced with a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry that's determined to maintain its market share at the expense of our kids and current smokers," Harold Wimmer, ALA national president and CEO, said in a statement from the group. "In the absence of any meaningful action by state and federal policymakers, an ever-changing Big Tobacco will continue to gain more customers unless our nation's leaders step up to fund programs and enact policies proven to make tobacco history."
According to the ALA report issued Wednesday, states spent
$485.5 million on programs aimed at curbing tobacco use in 2013, a
rise from $462.5 million in 2012. However, only two states --
Alaska and North Dakota -- had levels of funding on these programs
that matched levels recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. And 40 states and the District of Columbia
failed to fund their tobacco prevention programs at even half of
the CDC level.
In 2013, Massachusetts and Minnesota were the only states that
approved significant hikes in cigarette taxes, and no state
approved a comprehensive smoke-free workplace law, the report
found. North Dakota was the only one of the 50 states to pass a
comprehensive smoke-free law in the past three years.
Many Americans also lack access to therapies that experts know
can help smokers quit. Only two states provide Medicaid enrollees
with coverage for all seven U.S. Food and Drug
Administration-approved anti-smoking medications and three forms of
counseling, and only four states do so for state employees.
On the other hand, the ALA said that tobacco companies are
getting around current anti-smoking efforts by aggressively
marketing other tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco
(chewing and dipping tobacco, snuff) and cigars. They are also
aggressively promoting electronic cigarettes.
"There is no federal oversight of these products, and the e-cigarette industry is using celebrity spokespeople to glamorize its products, making unproven health claims, encouraging smokers to switch instead of quit, and creating candy- and fruit-flavored products to attract youth," the ALA said in the statement.
E-cigarettes are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, but the agency is mulling doing so, the group
noted. These products are surging in popularity, with the use of
e-cigarettes by youth and adults doubling in just one year,
according to 2013 studies by the CDC.
Almost half a million Americans die each year due to
tobacco-related illnesses, such as lung cancer and other cancers,
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and
stroke. In addition, tobacco use is linked to $280 billion in
health care costs and lost productivity annually, according to the
recently released 2014 Surgeon General's report.
"Despite strides in reducing smoking rates in America by half in the last 50 years, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S., including lung cancer, the number one cancer killer of both men and women in America," Wimmer said.
The American Lung Association and its partners have called for
action by all levels of government to achieve three ambitious
"If these goals are to be realized and lives are to be saved, federal and state governments must enact these lifesaving policies," Wimmer said. "In short, our nation cannot afford the health or financial consequences of failing to act."
The American Cancer Society offers a
guide to quitting smoking.
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