ALA Says Tennessee “Failing” At Saving Lives

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Today, the American Lung Association released its 14th annual “State of Tobacco Control” reportthat found in 2015 Tennessee failed to enact tobacco control policies that will save lives.

The report also finds Tennessee is not alone, as most states and the federal government earned poor grades, and the high level of youth use of tobacco products other than cigarettes threatens to undermine the United States’ overall progress in the fight against tobacco-caused death and disease.

“Tennessee is missing a clear opportunity to save lives by not taking action to prevent and reduce tobacco use. We must also face the reality that youth use of other tobacco products nationwide like e-cigarettes and little cigars is at an all-time high,” said Barry Gottschalk, CEO of the American Lung Association of the Midland States, which serves Tennessee. “Nearly a quarter of high school students are using tobacco products, and it is crucial that Tennessee take aggressive action to reduce all tobacco use – the #1 cause of preventable death and disease in our nation.”

The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates tobacco control policies at the state and federal level, and assigns grades based on whether laws protect citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives.

“State of Tobacco Control 2016” finds Tennessee’s failing grades show that urgent action is needed by our Governor and State Legislature to pass proven policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:

• Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding – Grade F

• Tobacco Taxes – Grade F

• Smokefree Air – Grade C

• Access to Cessation Services – Grade F

The American Lung Association in Kentucky calls on Tennessee to act on raising the tobacco tax by at least one dollar.

Beyond efforts to curb tobacco use rates, the report also looked at secondhand smoke protections in workplaces. While 28 states plus the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive smokefree workplace laws, no state passed a comprehensive law in 2015, and only one state has passed a comprehensive smokefree law in the past five years. Tennesee is one of the 22 states that has yet to fully protect its citizens from secondhand smoke.

“It’s long past time for Tennessee to act and pass a comprehensive smokefree workplace law,” said Heather Wehrheim, Advocacy Director of the American Lung Association in Tennessee. “No one should have to face the harmful effects of secondhand smoke to earn a paycheck.”

The federal government earned a C for Federal Cessation Coverage, an F for Tobacco Taxes and a B for its Mass Media Campaigns, a new grading area in this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report.

The American Lung Association was pleased that the Obama Administration released the long awaited final rule in January 2016 that allows the FDA to have oversight authority over all tobacco products, including cigars and electronic cigarettes. At long last, these unregulated products will finally be subject to basic requirements, such as displaying warning labels and making sure sales of these products will be prohibited to persons under age 18 nationwide.

“It’s not a secret how we can reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control 2016’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Wehrheim. “We must demand that our elected officials in Tennessee urgently act to implement these proven policies to save lives.”

The full State of Tobacco Control report can be found at www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org

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