Jan. 16, 2013 -- For its efforts to lessen smoking in the U.S. last year, the Obama administration is getting three D's and an F on the federal report card from the American Lung Association (ALA).
In its annual "State of Tobacco Control" progress report, released today, the ALA cited a "missed opportunity" to regulate and tax a new generation of tobacco products in the effort to keep young people from smoking.
A big concern is the spread of cheap, fruit- and candy-flavored cigars, which ALA Vice President for National Advocacy Erika Sward called a "gateway product" aimed at kids and teens.
They come in flavors like strawberry, peach, and even chocolate, and because they are not regulated or taxed like other tobacco products, they are much cheaper than cigarettes, she says.
“Because the FDA has not asserted its jurisdiction over cigars the way it has over cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, cigars are becoming a major public health problem for both adults and kids,” she says.
40+ States Get F's for Tobacco Control
State lawmakers also received low marks for 2012 for their tobacco control efforts, specifically for their failure to spend money from tobacco taxes and the landmark tobacco settlement on programs proven to lessen tobacco use.
More than 40 states received a failing grade for not investing even half of what is recommended by the CDC in tobacco prevention programs.
Only two states, Alaska and North Dakota, earned A's for their tobacco control efforts.
Of the close to $26 billion collected from these funding sources last year, states spent just $462 million on these programs, according to the ALA. That is about one-eighth of what the CDC recommends.
Four states -- New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Ohio -- spent none of the collected tobacco money on anti-smoking programs.
As states failed to fund these programs, the tobacco industry continued to spend billions to market its products and lobby lawmakers, the report notes.