Making the grade on the subject of Tobacco

By: Jessa Goddard
By: Jessa Goddard

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Despite what the American Lung Association calls “incredible tobacco control successes in 2007”, Tennessee received a tobacco report card with grades ranging from B to F.

The ALA cites three tobacco control victories won during the 2007 legislative session for the success.

Tennessee is one of the nations top 5 tobacco producing states, but on May 31, the state broke ties with big tobacco and passed the Non-Smoker Protection Act, providing smoke free workplace protection to most working Tennesseans.

On the heels of its passing, the legislature turned its attention to fiscal matters and within weeks, voted to increase Tennessee's cigarette excise tax by 42 cents to 62 cents per pack.

Also, for the first time ever, the Tennessee general assembly appropriated funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, totaling $10 million for 2008.

It is expected to be included in Governor Phil Bredesen's budget in future years.

Meanwhile, in spite of what the American Lung Association calls “incredible tobacco control successes”, Tennessee's report card ranges from above average to failing.

In the area of tobacco prevention and control spending, the state received a "F."

For smoke-free air, the ALA gave Tennessee a "B."

The state's cigarette tax, received a "D" grade and Tennessee's youth access laws, garnered a "B."

To improve the “F” grade for tobacco prevention and control, Tennessee would have to increase its spending by three to nine times, to put it in the range recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While Tennessee's cigarette tax is now the highest in the southeast, it remains far behind the rest of the country, which is the reason it received a “D.”

The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2007 Report” is a call to action for national and state elected officials to meet the challenge and enact strong tobacco control laws.

You can read it all by clicking on the Hot Key.

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