Cape Gazette
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ALA gives Delaware mixed grades for tobacco-cessation efforts

Jan 27, 2014

Delaware took some steps to reduce tobacco use, but failed to adequately fund prevention programs to protect children and curb tobacco-related disease in 2013.  Those were the findings of the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2014 report released Jan. 21.

The ALA’s 12th annual State of Tobacco Control report tracks yearly progress on key tobacco-control policies at the federal and state levels, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.

Delaware received the following grades for 2013: C in funding for tobacco prevention and control programs, A in smoke-free air, C in cigarette tax, D in cessation coverage.

“Delaware’s report card was decidedly mixed in the fight against tobacco use in 2013.  We made some progress in protecting our citizens from tobacco-caused diseases like lung cancer and COPD, particularly in its comprehensive Clean Indoor Air Law and the introduction of House Bill 138, which would increase the tax on other tobacco products (chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes) to 30 percent of the wholesale cost,” said Deb Brown, CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid Atlantic, serving Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“The bill was tabled in the House Revenue and Finance Committee, but not before it was fiercely debated with considerable opposition from tobacco product manufacturers and electronic cigarette proponents,” Brown noted.  “Our state’s leaders could do more in 2014.”

“We would like to see Delaware increase its funding for prevention and cessation.  Delaware must also tax other tobacco products - chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes - just like a pack of cigarettes,” said Brown. Currently, Delaware's tax rate on a package of 20 cigarettes is $1.60.

Priorities that must be addressed to improve Delaware’s State of Tobacco Control grades in 2014 include Increasing funding for educational programs for the anti-tobacco youth programs, which have proven successful in lowering the smoking rate among teens, and improving services and programs that provide patient access to treatment and services for lung-related health conditions.

Fifty years ago, on Jan. 11, 1964, the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health linked smoking to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other diseases for the first time. These diseases are still killing more than 480,000 Americans each year, almost 1,200 of whom are Delawareans.

Tobacco industry stays one step ahead

State of Tobacco Control 2014 finds that the tobacco industry continued its pursuit of addicting new, young users, and keeping current users from quitting in 2013.

The three largest cigarette manufacturers continued their aggressive expansion into tobacco products other than cigarettes in 2013, including smokeless tobacco, cigars and now e-cigarettes. A recent CDC study showed the use of e-cigarettes among youth doubled from 2011 to 2012. There is no federal oversight of these products.

The American Lung Association and its partners called for action by all levels of government to achieve three bold goals: reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent within 10 years; protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within five years; and ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use. Learn more at www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org.

For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA, 1-800-586-4872 or visit www.lungusa.org.

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