Tennessee flunks half of American Lung Association tobacco report card

Tennessee received the following grades for 2012:

Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding: F

Cigarette Tax: F

Smokefree Air: C

Cessation Coverage: D

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee failed to make any progress protecting kids from Big Tobacco, according to the American Lung Association. In its "State of Tobacco Control 2013," the ALA said the state failed to invest in programs and policies it says are proven to reduce tobacco use.

"Tennessee has the unfortunate distinction of failing to make progress in the fight against tobacco use in 2012, meanwhile Big Tobacco was busy honing clever new tactics to lure new youth smokers," said Ellen Kershaw, Advocacy Director, American Lung Association in Tennessee.

The American Lung Association blamed tobacco use for the death of nearly 10,000 Tennesseans and said it cost the state's economy over $5 billion.

"We can no longer allow the Volunteer State to be the tobacco industry's playground," added Kershaw. "It's going to take a great deal of political will, but we are confident our elected officials are up to the challenge. Our kids and current smokers are depending on them for help."

The report card is designed to track progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and federal level, the ALA said. It assigns grades are based on if the laws adequately protect people from tobacco use.

The ALA points out the state receives more than $580 million in tobacco-related revenue, it only invests a meager 3% of what the CDC recommends should be spent on getting people to stop smoking and never to start.

"It's time Tennessee removes Big Tobacco's welcome mat," said Kershaw. "Leaders in Nashville must provide smokers with the support they need to quit and adequately fund programs that help keep our kids off tobacco."

Two things the the association says Tennessee needs to address to make progress are:

  • Improving smoking prevention and cessation efforts by providing adequate resources to more effectively prevent kids from starting to use tobacco and help current tobacco users quit

  • Strengthening Tennessee's smokefree law to protect employees and customers in all workplaces.

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