Colorado receives some good, some bad grades on tobacco reduction report

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DENVER (KDVR) — The American Lung Association released the 2021 “State of Tobacco Control” report on Wednesday.

The report grades federal and state efforts to reduce tobacco use and calls for meaningful policies that will prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives.

The report found that Colorado had mixed grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.

The American Lung Association said the report findings suggest Colorado must act to support public health and save lives. The need for Colorado to take action to protect youth from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is more urgent than ever, with the youth vaping epidemic continuing. 

“In Colorado, our youth tobacco use rates remain at 32.6%. The surge in youth vaping combined with the fact that smoking increases the chance of severe COVID-19 symptoms, make it more important than ever for Colorado to implement the proven measures outlined in ‘State of Tobacco Control’  to prevent and reduce tobacco use,” said American Lung Association Senior Director of Advocacy, JoAnna Strother.

The “State of Tobacco Control” found that while Colorado has taken significant steps to reduce tobacco use, including passing an excise tobacco tax, elected officials should do more to save lives and ensure all Colorado residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. This is especially the case during the pandemic.

The American Lung Association said the report also explores the fact that tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure disproportionately impacts certain communities, including communities of color, LGBTQ+ Americans and persons of lower income, and outlines solutions to close this gap.

Here are Colorado’s grades, according to the American Lung Association

1.       Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F

2.       Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade B

3.       Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade D

4.       Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade A

5.      Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products   – Grade F

The American Lung Association encourages Colorado to put in place all the public policies called for in “State of Tobacco Control.” In particular this year’s report noted the need to focus on ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products. 

“Kids follow the flavors and ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Colorado is key to ending the youth e-cigarette epidemic and youth tobacco use overall. We call on state and local lawmakers to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol across Colorado, said. JoAnna Strother.

Federal Grades Overview

“State of Tobacco Control” 2021 also grades the federal government in five areas: 

·         Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products (2021 grade – D)

·         Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments (2021 grade – D)

·         Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes (2020 grade – F)

·         Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use (2021 grade – A)

·         Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 (2021 grade – A)

“State of Tobacco Control” 2021 provides an important roadmap on how states like Colorado and the federal government can put in place the policies proven to have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. Because of COVID-19, we are all thinking more about lung health. Now is the time for lawmakers in Colorado to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease,” said Strother.  

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