Tennessee Fails To Protect Citizens From Tobacco-Caused Disease And Death Report Says

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tennessee has failed to make progress toward protecting children from Big Tobacco's marketing tactics by neglecting to invest in programs and policies proven to reduce tobacco use according to the American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control 2013" report released today.

The American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control" report tracks 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.

The 11th annual report shows how money is often at the root of the leading cause of preventable death, as state and federal policymakers are failing to battle a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry.

Tennessee received the following grades for 2012:

Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding: F

Cigarette Tax: F

Smokefree Air: C

Cessation Coverage: D.

"Tennessee has the unfortunate distinction of failing to make progress in the fight against tobacco use in 2012, meanwhile Big Tobacco was busy honing clever new tactics to lure new youth smokers," said Ellen Kershaw, advocacy director, American Lung Association in Tennessee.

"Tobacco causes an estimated 9,709 deaths in Tennessee annually and costs the state's economy $5,135,105,000 in healthcare costs and lost productivity, a tremendous burden that our state can ill afford."

"Although Tennessee receives $581 million in tobacco-related revenue annually, it only invests a meager three percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends should be spent on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The failure of states across the U.S. to invest in policies and programs to reduce tobacco use has resulted in three million new youth and young smokers in the United States," according to the Surgeon General's 2012 report.

The National Institute on Money in State Politics released a report today in conjunction with "State of Tobacco Control 2013" called "Big Tobacco Wins Tax Battles," revealing preliminary data that tobacco manufacturers and retailers gave $53.4 million to state candidates for office, political parties and to oppose tobacco-related ballot measures during the 2011-2012 election cycle.

This figure includes spending over $46 million to defeat California's initiative to increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack. Tobacco manufacturers and retailers gave significant amounts of money to candidates in the following states: California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana and Missouri.

Priorities that need to be addressed to improve Tennessee's "State of Tobacco Control" grades for 2013 include:

• Improving smoking prevention and cessation efforts by providing adequate resources to more effectively prevent kids from starting to use tobacco and help current tobacco users quit; and

• Strengthening Tennessee's smokefree law to protect employees and customers in all workplaces.

"It's time Tennessee removes Big Tobacco's welcome mat," said Ms. Kershaw. "Leaders in Nashville must provide smokers with the support they need to quit and adequately fund programs that help keep our kids off tobacco.

"We can no longer allow the Volunteer State to be the tobacco industry's playground. It's going to take a great deal of political will, but we are confident our elected officials are up to the challenge. Our kids and current smokers are depending on them for help."

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