The American Lung Association recently took a look at how much states are spending to fight tobacco use, comparing their spending to recommended levels of spending set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The result: 41 states and the District of Columbia are spending less than half the recommended amount, and just two states spend the recommended amount.
This news was included in the ALA’s State of Tobacco Control 2015 report. It includes a state-by-state “report card” that grades states on various tobacco control and prevention actions. Most states performed poorly, the ALA said, with Indiana receiving an “F” for its lack of initiative on anti-tobacco measures.
“State level progress on proven tobacco control policies was virtually nonexistent in 2014,” said Harold Wimmer, American Lung Association National President and CEO. “No state passed a comprehensive smoke-free law or significantly increased tobacco taxes, and not a single state managed to earn an ‘A’ grade for providing access to cessation treatments,” he said.
The federal government was also chastised for failing to take a tougher stance against tobacco use.
“The federal government took small steps forward this year, but still fell short in important areas, such as tobacco taxes and finalizing its regulatory authority over all tobacco products,” the ALA said in a release.
The report noted that tobacco use or exposure to tobacco smoke leads to nearly a half million deaths annually in the U.S. and is responsible for $333 billion in health care bills and lost productivity at work each year. While the number of smokers has decreased over the years, the ALA said the toll taken by tobacco is still an enormous one.
“Despite cutting U.S. smoking rates by half in the last 51 years, tobacco's ongoing burden on America’s health and economy is catastrophic,” Wimmer said. “Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and it impacts almost every system in the body, contributing to lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and even sudden infant death syndrome.”
State report cards revealed how little progress is being made to engage states in the anti-tobacco campaign. Just two states, Alaska and North Dakota, met the budget recommended by the CDC. And only two states (Indiana and Massachusetts) provide Medicaid members with a comprehensive tobacco cessation benefit as part of coverage.