Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pa. still blowing smoke in anti-tobacco effort?

February 20. 2013 2:19AM
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Pennsylvania‚??s been given two ‚??Cs‚?Ě and two ‚??Fs‚?Ě on its annual report card from the American Lung Association, which are the same grades it received in the two previous reports.

The association‚??s State of Tobacco Control 2012 report card, which will be released in full today, details all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and their efforts to fund anti-smoking programs, tobacco tax rate levels and clean air laws.

A summary of the report released Tuesday notes that ‚??although Pennsylvania receives $1.4 billion in tobacco-related revenue annually, it spends a meager 11 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to fund tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs.‚?Ě

‚??Pennsylvania must make it a priority to invest in programs that keep kids off tobacco and to help smokers quit,‚?Ě said Deb Brown, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. ‚??That starts with increasing Pennsylvania‚??s current level of tobacco prevention and cessation funding.‚?Ě

The report cites a U.S. Surgeon General statistic that found ‚??the failure of states to invest in policies and programs to reduce tobacco use has resulted in 3 million new youth and young adult smokers in the United States.‚?Ě

Pennsylvania received the following grades for 2012:

‚?Ę C in smoke-free air.

‚?Ę C in cigarette taxes.

‚?Ę F in cessation coverage.

‚?Ę F in funding for tobacco prevention and control programs.

On Tuesday, in conjunction with the American Lung Association report, The National Institute on Money in State Politics released a report called ‚??Big Tobacco Wins Tax Battles,‚?Ě 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 2011-12 election cycle.

This figure includes spending more than $46 million to defeat California‚??s initiative to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack.

‚??Money is not a barrier to combating tobacco-caused disease,‚?Ě said Brown. ‚??It is greed and lack of political will that continues to bind us to Big Tobacco. Our state elected officials have an opportunity to change course in 2013, and make big strides in the fight to end tobacco-caused death and disease.‚?Ě

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