The American Lung Association (ALA) found 40 states grimly lacking in their efforts to curb smoking via specified programs, according to a new report. In general anti-tobacco efforts, 45 states…

Anti-Smoking Programs

Anti-Smoking Programs Fall Short in 40 States

The American Lung Association (ALA) found 40 states grimly lacking in their efforts to curb smoking via specified programs, according to a new report. In general anti-tobacco efforts, 45 states failed based on the ALA’s standards. Only 5 states passed the full test, and one of those barely passed with all D’s.

There has been a shift in public thinking regarding tobacco use, and advances have been made on treating tobacco-related illnesses, but poor momentum on the front end reveals the need for national and state governments to ramp up their prevention efforts.

Smoking Report Card

A HealthDay News article on Health.com breaks down the issue. The ALA assigned grades on both national and state-wide levels for categories like:

  • General anti-smoking efforts
  • Covering smoking cessation programs in Medicaid and other health care programs (37 states received an F in this category)
  • Cigarette taxation (5 states earned an A for charging a tax of $2.90 or more per pack of cigarettes)
  • Smoke-free air laws
  • Providing recommended levels of funding toward tobacco control and prevention programs (40 states received an F in this category)

The article mentions that some of the failure may come from misuse of allotted funding:

The report faults states for using revenues from tobacco taxes and the tobacco settlement money to balance their budgets instead of using that money to fund anti-smoking and quit-smoking programs. In addition, only six states raised tobacco taxes last year.

State Comparisons on Smoking

No state earned straight A’s in this “report card,” but the following states managed to pass:

  • Vermont
  • Oklahoma
  • Maine
  • Montana
  • Arkansas

These states “failed” miserably, receiving not a single grade above F:

  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Kentucky
  • Alabama

Kansas was the only state to add a strong smoke-free air law this past year, making it the 27th state with such laws.

Smoking and Oral Cancer

Smoking is the #1 cause of preventable death, with more than 400,000 people in the U.S. every year dying of illnesses directly related to tobacco use and even secondhand smoke. This includes oral cancer, for which tobacco use is a common cause.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2010, approximately 35,000 Americans will have been diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer. It caused more than 8,000 deaths last year, approximately one per hour. This rate has not really improved in several decades, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation. The death rate for this cancer is higher than that of many other familiar cancers .

Your dentist can watch for signs of oral cancer, so it’s important to maintain regularly scheduled dental checkups. If you have ever used tobacco products, you are at greater risk for oral cancer, so it’s especially important to get an oral exam in those situations. Your dentist can spot abnormalities in your mouth much more easily than you can.

The FDA has taken great strides in banning and enforcing tobacco stipulations. Smoking now carries a negative connotation for much of the public, but tobacco companies have become even more creative in their marketing ploys, even targeting children. In light of these “report cards,” the ALA encourages state governments to put more effort into regulating tobacco use and mobilizing their prevention efforts.

What do you think about current tobacco laws and initiatives?’

Read more about oral cancer:

Effects of Oral Cancer and Prevention Through Affordable Dental Care

Embarrassed About Smoking But Need Cheap Dental Care?

New Oral Cancer Screening May Increase Awareness

5 Comments
  1. Oh wow. Thanks Joy, that’s a helpful article. As if I needed more reasons to stay away from tobacco smoke! it’s amazing how much those chemicals can damage your body.

  2. Well I’m all for personal freedom, but the difference with smoking vs. wearing a seat belt is that not wearing/wearing a seat belt only affects the wearer where as smoking cigarettes negatively affects the smoker AND everyone they come in contact with. I think all states need to get MUCH stricter. It’s a public health hazard and I think it’s an invasion on non-smokers rights and health to allow smokers to continue smoking wherever they want. I could go on and on — these is definitely a topic I feel very strongly about!

  3. I am not sure what I think about tobacco laws. My preference is not to smoke – don’t like how it makes my clothes smell or the risk of cancer, but telling people where they can and can’t smoke seems to limit freedom and choice – like whether or not to wear your seat belt or not. I prefer wearing one, but where does the government overstep its bounds in regulating our lives? Discuss :)

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