Special to THe times herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — Indiana made little progress this past year in reducing tobacco caused death and disease, according to the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014” report released recently.
Fifty years since the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health was issued on Jan. 11, 1964, the report finds that Indiana and our nation must renew their commitment to eliminate tobacco-caused death and disease.
“Despite great strides in reducing smoking rates in America, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S.,” said Lindsay Grace, Manager of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Indiana. “We must renew our commitment to stopping tobacco from robbing another generation of Americans of their health and future. We cannot afford another 50 years of tobacco use,” Grace urged.
The Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014,” its 12th annual report, tracks yearly progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. The 2014 report highlights the 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s report that linked smoking to lung cancer and other diseases for the first time.
Indiana received the following grades for 2013.
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding: F
Cigarette Tax: D
Smoke-free Air: C
Cessation Coverage: F
“Indiana has the unfortunate distinction of failing to make progress in the fight against tobacco use in 2013, and protect its citizens from tobacco-caused diseases like lung cancer, the leading cancer killer of both men and women in Indiana. Meanwhile Big Tobacco continued to rob our health and wealth with clever new tactics to lure new youth smokers,” said Grace
Tobacco causes an estimated 9,728 deaths in Indiana annually and costs the state’s economy $4,804,232,000 in healthcare costs and lost productivity, a tremendous burden that our state can ill afford.
For Indiana, 2013 was another missed opportunity to put in place proven policies to reduce tobacco use and save lives, including smokefree workplace laws, higher tobacco taxes and tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs.
Priorities that must be addressed to improve Indiana’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades in 2014 include:
• High and equitable taxes on all tobacco products
• Higher funding for Indiana’s Tobacco Prevention program
“Leaders in Indianapolis must step up to provide smokers with the support they need to quit and adequately fund prevention programs that help keep our kids off tobacco,” said Grace
Meanwhile, the tobacco industry continued its ruthless pursuit of addicting new users and keeping current users from quitting in 2013. This included efforts at the federal and state levels to exempt their products from meaningful public health protections.
The three largest cigarette manufacturers—Altria, Reynolds American, and Lorillard—continued their aggressive expansion into tobacco products other than cigarettes in 2013.
As cigarette use continues to gradually decline, these companies continue to maintain their stranglehold on America’s youth and reap profits from smokeless tobacco, cigars and now e-cigarettes.
“I urge everyone in the Hoosier State to join the American Lung Association in Indiana and renew their commitment to preventing another 50 years of tobacco caused death and disease,” said Grace.