Ohio failing in its efforts to reduce tobacco use


By Ken Fletcher - American Lung Association



The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report (http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/tobacco/reports-resources/sotc/) has found that in 2016 Ohio failed to do enough to implement proven-effective policies that would save lives. The 15th annual report grades states and the federal government on policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The report shows that most states and the federal government earned poor grades. Ohio has not increased the age of sale for tobacco products to 21 years old.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in our nation, and 21.6 percent of Ohio residents currently smoke. We know what works when it comes to preventing and reducing tobacco use, what we need is Ohio policymakers to implement the policies and programs called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ that would save lives and protect kids from a lifetime of addiction.

The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failures of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use, and the report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous health toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. This year, the report has added a new grade on efforts to increase the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21.

Close to 95 percent of adult smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 21. Increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 will significantly reduce youth tobacco use and save thousands of lives nationwide.

This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” finds Ohio’s mixed grades show that much more must be done by our Governor and State Legislature to pass proven-effective policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:

• Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F

• Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade A

• Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F

• Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade F

• Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F

The American Lung Association in Ohio calls on Ohio to act to match the tax on non-cigarette forms of tobacco; increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs; and pass Tobacco 21 laws to increase the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 in additional cities in the state.

In this year’s “State of Tobacco Control,” the federal government earned an “F” for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Regulation of Tobacco Products. Although the American Lung Association applauds the release of the final rule that gave FDA authority over all tobacco products, the report recognizes the Obama Administration’s failure to proceed with other key initiatives including requiring graphic warning labels on cigarettes and the federal government’s failure to move forward on issuing a rule to end the sale of menthol cigarettes nationwide – despite the recommendations from an FDA expert advisory committee.

Other federal grades include a “C” for Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments, an “F” for Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, including the Tips from Former Smokers Campaign.

It’s not a secret how to reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco. We must demand that Ohio elected officials urgently act to implement these proven policies that will save lives and prevent tobacco-caused death and disease.

By Ken Fletcher

American Lung Association