Tobacco report releases grades for best & worst states for tobacco control policies

Virginia ranked as one of the worst
Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 3:00 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America, killing 480,000 people each year. Currently, 16 million Americans live with a tobacco-related disease.

The Tobacco Report not only grades states and the federal government, but also identifies key actions for lawmakers to take to eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

“Virginia lags behind when it comes to tobacco control policies, and as a result, we have adult smoking rates at 12.4% and a higher than national average high school tobacco use rate of 22.5%,” said Aleks Casper, Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association in Virginia. “This gives us an important opportunity to improve the health of the Commonwealth through a proven and comprehensive approach which include policies, such as requiring tobacco retailers to obtain a license, tobacco taxes and repealing the tobacco surcharge in healthcare premiums to increase access tobacco cessation services.”

The “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. In the 2023 report, Virginia received the following grades:

1. Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F

2. Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade F

3. Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F

4. Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade D

5. Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F

This year’s report noted the need for Virginia policymakers to focus on including, addressing tobacco use through a comprehensive evidence-based approach. Lawmakers should not permit any roll backs or decreases in rates on specific products as tobacco taxes are critical to reducing tobacco use in the Commonwealth.

An additional part of this comprehensive approach would be the licensing of tobacco retailers in the Commonwealth. The Lung Association urges the Commonwealth to require tobacco product retailers to obtain a license for a comprehensive tobacco retail license program with annual renewal of the license, graduated penalties for violations including suspension and revocation provisions and required retailer education.

For more information on the full report click here