Lack of indoor e-cigarette policy, low tobacco tax blamed for failing grades
SOUTH DAKOTA – Today, the American Lung Association in South Dakota released the 2019 “State of Tobacco Control” report, which revealed poor grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use. The lack of progress on tobacco control efforts is largely attributed to the state’s low tobacco taxes and because their indoor smoking policies do not include e-cigarettes.
The 17th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that elected officials must do more to save lives and ensure all South Dakota residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:
• Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
• Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade C
• 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 need for South Dakota to take action to protect youth from tobacco is more urgent than ever, with youth e-cigarette use reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. This equals one million additional kids beginning to use e-cigarettes, placing their developing bodies and lungs at risk from the chemicals in e-cigarettes as well as a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product. This has caused the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in an Advisory issued in December 2018.
“In South Dakota, our smoking rates remain at 19 percent and tobacco use remains the state’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, killing more than 1,250 people per year. We need to invest in proven measures such as raising the tobacco tax in order to drive down smoking rates, prevent youth from becom¬ing addicted, and generate funding for tobacco educa¬tion and other crucial health programs,” said Pat McKone, senior director of health promotions for the Lung Association.
The Lung Association encourages South Dakota to fully fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC, and in particular, this year’s report noted the need to focus on passing legislation to raise the state tobacco tax by $1.00 per pack.
Increasing tobacco taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, not only among low-income individuals but also for youth. Multiple studies have shown that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces consumption by about four percent among adults and about seven percent among youth.
“To protect kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction, the Lung Association encourages South Dakota to increase tobacco taxes by $1.00 per pack. This step is critical to our state as current tobacco use among youth is over 30 percent,” said McKone.
The 2019 “State of Tobacco Control” provides a blueprint that states and the federal government can follow to put in place proven policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the U.S. The real question is: Will lawmakers in South Dakota end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease?
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lunghealth and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American LungAssociation, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work itdoes, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.