Every year in the U.S. over 392,000 people die from tobacco-caused disease, making it the leading cause of preventable death; an additional 50,000 people die from exposure to secondhand smoke. Tragically, each day approximately 1,100 kids become regular, daily smokers and between one third and one half will eventually die as a result of their addiction.
What can be done to halt this public health epidemic? The American Lung Association is working at the federal, state and local level to pass laws and implement policies that will lessen the burden of tobacco on our families, communities and nation. You can help us in this effort by becoming a Lung Association e-advocate or by donating to the Lung Association.
We also are committed to helping smokers quit: The American Lung Association’s Lung Help Line and our Freedom from Smoking program stand ready to help smokers quit.
Public Policy Priorities
Some of the American Lung Association’s tobacco control policy priorities include:
- Giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products. Tobacco products are virtually the only consumer products available that are not regulated by the federal government. Currently, the Congress is considering legislation that would give the FDA the authority to oversee the manufacture, marketing and distribution of manufactured tobacco products.
- Passing comprehensive legislation to make all workplaces smokefree. In January of 2006, the American Lung Association issued its Smokefree Air Challenge, urging all states and communities to be smokefree. To date, 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have passed comprehensive smokefree laws.
- Increasing funding for state tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends funding levels for each state’s tobacco control programs. No states are spending the amount recommended by CDC in 2008/2009.
- Increasing tobacco excise taxes. Increasing excise taxes on tobacco products is a proven way to reduce use, particularly among kids. Currently, the average state excise tax is $1.235 per pack.
- Progress on FDA Legislation. On April 2, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Legislation, which would give the FDA authority over tobacco products. The Senate is now considering the legislation.
- A Smokefree U.S. Capitol. Over 9,000 American Lung Association advocates across the country signed the “Smokefree U.S. Capitol” petition, urging U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make the Capitol smokefree. Speaker Pelosi announced in January of 2007 that smoking would no longer be permitted in the U.S. Capitol.
- More states increase their cigarette taxes. Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi and Rhode Island have passed cigarette tax increases in 2009.
- More States Have Gone Smokefree. In 2009, South Dakota and Wisconsin have approved new comprehensive smokefree laws, and a few other states, including Michigan are still considering legislation.
We know what will make the difference in reducing the toll of tobacco in the U.S.: FDA having the authority to regulate tobacco products, fully funding comprehensive tobacco control and cessation programs, increasing tobacco taxes and passing comprehensive smokefree laws.
In August of 2007, the President’s Cancer Panel released its report, Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: Policy, Program, and Personal Recommendations for Reducing Cancer Risk. This prestigious panel urged the “the leadership of this nation to summon the political will” to address the public health crisis caused by tobacco use.
How You Can Help
The American Lung Association Action Network unites you with people from around the nation who are concerned about, or have been touched by tobacco and other lung health issues. As a part of the Action Network, you will receive action items and alerts to keep you informed and involved in the American Lung Association’s ongoing effort to communicate with decision makers on these and other emerging lung health concerns.