More Than 40 States Get an 'F' for Tobacco Control
$46 Million Spent to Defeat Cigarette Tax
In California alone, according to the report, the tobacco industry spent $46 million fighting against a 2012 ballot initiative that would have raised taxes on cigarettes by $1 a pack to fund cancer research and anti-smoking programs. The initiative was narrowly defeated.
“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,” said ALA Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Education Paul G. Billings in a new release.
“State and federal policymakers must battle a changing Big Tobacco and step up to fund programs and enact policies proven to reduce tobacco use.”
Health Care Law Offers Opportunity
But it was what the ALA perceives as the federal government’s failure to take meaningful steps forward in 2012 on tobacco control that is the major focus of the report.
Sward says the lack of progress was especially disappointing, given that the Obama administration has historically been aggressive in its efforts to control tobacco use.
“This administration has done more to move the ball forward with regard to tobacco control than any other,” she says. “The first three years of the Obama administration saw incredible forward progress, and we are very hopeful that we will again see progress in 2013.”
Specifically, she says, the ALA is hopeful that 2013 will bring sizeable regulation over all tobacco products, including any new products the tobacco industry comes up with.
And as states hammer out the specifics of their insurance exchanges under the new national health care law, the ALA is calling on the Obama administration to require insurance companies to offer comprehensive quit-smoking benefits, which include seven different medications and three forms of counseling.
“We know that these treatments work, but one size doesn’t fit all,” Sward says.
Federal Officials Respond
In response to the report, the FDA issued a statement highlighting the steps the Obama administration has made to stop smoking in the U.S.
“This Administration has initiated an unprecedented array of actions to reduce tobacco use and stop people from taking up smoking, particularly among youth,” the statement reads.
“These include FDA actions, such as implementing historic tobacco regulation legislation and robust enforcement of marketing, sale, and distribution laws with attention to age and ID verification. Other [actions] include releasing the first-ever national strategic plan for tobacco control; significant investments in state and local tobacco control initiatives; expanding coverage of tobacco cessation counseling; and creating the Tobacco-Free College Campus initiative.”
Later this year, the FDA also plans to launch a multi-year, multimedia education campaign aimed at stopping tobacco use among teens and young adults.