Funding failures: Tobacco prevention and cessation


When it comes to state funding for tobacco prevention and cessation, the American Lung Association grades on a curve. It did not help.

State grades: Tobacco prevention and cessation funding, 2020

The ALA gave failing grades to 43 states in its new State of Tobacco Control report, along with three A’s, one C, and four D’s, despite a grading formula that passed anything better than a 50%.

Each state’s annual funding for tobacco prevention and cessation was calculated and then compared with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended spending level. That percentage became the grade, with any level of funding at 80% or more of the CDC’s recommendation getting an A and anything below 50% getting an F, the ALA explained.

The three A’s went to Alaska – which spent $10.14 million, or 99.4% of the CDC-recommended $10.2 million – California (96.0%), and Maine (83.5%). The lowest levels of spending came from Georgia, which spend just 2.8% of the CDC’s recommendation of $106 million, and Missouri, which spent 3.0%, the ALA reported.

States’ grades were generally better in the four other areas of tobacco-control policy: There were 24 A’s and 9 F’s for smoke-free air laws, 1 A and 35 F’s for tobacco excise taxes, 3 A’s and 17 F’s for access to cessation treatment, and 10 A’s and 30 F’s for laws to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 years, the ALA said in the report.

Despite an overall grade of F, the federal government managed to earn some praise in that last area: “In what could only be described as unimaginable even 2 years ago, in December 2019, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to raise the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21,” the ALA said.

The federal government was strongly criticized on the subject of e-cigarettes. “The Trump Administration failed to prioritize public health over the tobacco industry with its Jan. 2, 2020, announcement that will leave thousands of flavored e-cigarettes on the market,” the ALA said, while concluding that the rising use of e-cigarettes in recent years “is a real-world demonstration of the failure of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to properly oversee all tobacco products. … This failure places the lung health and lives of Americans at risk.”

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