Nearly 1-in-5 teens are vaping and close to 1-in-4 teens are using at least one tobacco product, according to the American Lung Association’s 19th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report. The report grades state and federal governments on their efforts to pass proven tobacco control policies and provides a roadmap for them to enact meaningful prevention efforts.
Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking 480,000 lives every year. Similar to COVID-19, tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure disproportionately impacts certain communities, including communities of color, LGBTQ+ Americans and persons of lower income.
Federal Grades Overview:
- Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products (2021 grade – “D”)
- Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments (2021 grade – “D”)
- Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes (2021 grade – “F”)
- Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use (2021 grade – “A”)
- Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 (2021 grade – “A”)
State Grades Overview
- Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products – 45 states and Washington, DC, received “F” grades in this new grading category in 2021
- Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – 42 states and Washington, DC, received “F” grades in 2021
- Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – 24 states received “A” grades in 2021
- Level of State Tobacco Taxes – 33 states received “F” grades in 2021
- Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – 29 states received a “D” grade or worse in 2021
“The Biden Administration has a golden opportunity to restore our nation’s public health infrastructure and increase investments in public health,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “The new administration should take important actions that remain unfinished from the past two administrations, including ensuring the FDA uses its full authority to fulfill the requirements of the Tobacco Control Act passed 12 years ago.”
According to Wimmer, at the top of the list is ensuring FDA correctly implements and enforces pre-market tobacco product authorization requirements for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in part by removing all flavored products.
In addition, as a result of a lawsuit filed by the American Lung Association and its partners, the FDA issued the final graphic warning labels for cigarette packs on March 15, 2020. However, these are now on hold due to multiple lawsuits filed by the tobacco industry. The Lung Association urges the Biden Administration to vigorously defend these warnings, which will increase awareness and knowledge of the dangers of tobacco products.
“The year’s report calls on the Biden Administration to continue proven efforts, such as the removal of all flavored tobacco products, including all menthol products, from the market,” Wimmer said. “In the meantime, state and local governments should be resolved to seize the moment and protect public health by ending the sale of flavored tobacco products.”
Removing flavored tobacco is a top priority of the American Lung Association. As a result, this year the Lung Association added a new state grade category for flavored tobacco products in “State of Tobacco Control” 2021.
Menthol cigarettes remain a key vector for tobacco-related death and disease in Black communities, with close to 85% of Black Americans who smoke using them. Ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, will not only help end the youth vaping epidemic, but will also help address the disproportionate impact of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke on Black and Brown communities.