The latest American Lung Association (ALA) ‘State of Tobacco Control Report’ lambasts both the tobacco industry and tobacco control.
The annual report is said to track ‘progress’ on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the ‘enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy’.
“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 Paul G. Billings, ALA senior vice president for advocacy and education. “State and federal policymakers must battle a changing Big Tobacco and step up to fund programs and enact policies proven to reduce tobacco use.”
In a press note issued through PRNewswire, the ALA said, in part, that the federal government’s progress on tobacco control during the past several years had nearly ground to a halt in 2012.
‘Most notably, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to exercise its oversight authority allowing for the proliferation of a new generation of tobacco products aimed at hooking youth smokers,’ the note said.
‘State governments continued their years of inaction by again failing to invest income from tobacco taxes and tobacco settlement payments into programs proven to keep youth off tobacco and help current smokers quit. According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, if states begin to invest in tobacco prevention programs, youth tobacco use could be cut in half in just six years.
‘Smoking costs the American public almost $200 billion every year in healthcare costs and lost productivity and wages – a staggering bill that the country can ill afford.’
The ALA said that despite receiving $25.7 billion in tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes in 2012, more than 40 states had received an F for not investing even half of what is recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in proven tobacco prevention programs.
‘States and the federal government have also failed to raise taxes on tobacco products other than cigarettes. This led to a surge in the consumption of certain cheaper tobacco products, including flavored cigars that are popular among already vulnerable populations – youth, low income communities, Hispanics and LGBT.’
Later, the press note quoted from preliminary data from a report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, called ‘Big Tobacco Wins Tax Battles’, to make the point that the tobacco industry was hard at work making campaign contributions to candidates for political office and bankrolling efforts aimed at defeating ballot initiatives.
‘Candidates for state office during the 2011-2012 election cycle accepted $53.4 million and the industry spent a whopping $46 million to defeat Proposition 29, which would have increased California’s cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack,’ the note said. ‘In addition, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the tobacco industry contributed over $3.7 million to candidates for federal office.’
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