Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 16, the American Lung Association will release its annual State of Tobacco Control 2013. The report grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on four key tobacco control policy areas. In addition, the American Lung Association in California will release a California version of the report that issues grades for every city and county in the state on three important local tobacco control policies — Smokefree Outdoor Air, Smokefree Housing, and Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products. This represents grades for all 482 incorporated cities and towns and all 58 counties in our state.
Both reports are designed to increase public awareness about the impact of tobacco in our state and local communities, and to provide encouragement, where appropriate, to our leaders to improve our tobacco grades.
This year’s national report and infographic look at how Big Tobacco has spent billions to stack the chips against our kids, and made lavish campaign contributions to oppose proven tobacco control measures. (Be sure to take a close look because California is prominently featured.) The theme also covers the lack of funds invested by states for tobacco prevention and cessation despite receiving billions from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, as well as the lack of industry oversight provided by the federal government.
Once a national leader in tobacco control policies, California’s efforts are now lagging. Exacerbating California’s weakened position on tobacco prevention, the state has not increased its cigarette tax since 1999 and now has the 33rd lowest state tobacco tax in the country at 87 cents per pack, compared to the US average of $1.48 per pack. States including Texas, Oklahoma and Montana now have higher tobacco taxes than California. And our once robust pioneering tobacco prevention program is funded at just a meager 15 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to adequately fund tobacco prevention programs and services to help people quit smoking.
Staff have been working since early October to develop the grades and communicate with our local tobacco control partners about the results. In addition, a letter has gone to every mayor, city council member and supervisor in the state to inform them about the report and encourage them to visit our website to get their grades. And on January 16 we will distribute a copy of the State of Tobacco Control 2013 report and the California local grades report to every member of the California Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown.
The State of Tobacco Control 2013 is an American Lung Association signature report and we are all extremely proud of the herculean efforts of our entire team to take it to the next level by once again issuing grades to all California cities and counties.