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Georgia gets failing marks in tobacco use prevention
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Georgia scored two “F”s, a “B” and a “D” in the American Lung Association’s annual State of Tobacco Control 2007 report.

The annual American Lung Association report card grades states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico on key tobacco control policies.  In addition, the report grades federal tobacco control efforts, including: cigarette tax, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of tobacco products, cessation policies, and ratification of the international tobacco control treaty.

ALA gave Georgia a “B” for its state smoke free air law, an “F” for our 37 cent cigarette tax, among the lowest in the country, and for its failure to adequately fund state tobacco use prevention programs. The “D” was for weak youth access to tobacco laws.

“Raising Georgia’s cigarette tax and sufficiently funding tobacco prevention programs would certainly improve our grades,” said June Deen, spokesperson for the American Lung Association, Southeast Region.

Twenty-five states have a cigarette tax of $1 or more; the state tax average is $1.11.  

“Raising cigarette taxes has motivated thousands of Americans to quit smoking and discouraged kids from starting to smoke,” Deen said.

Grades for federal issues — FDA regulation of tobacco products, cigarette excise tax, cessation policies, and the international tobacco control treaty — still score only Ds and Fs. Congress, however, is poised to pass the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to give the FDA oversight over tobacco products, legislation that will curb the marketing of cigarettes to children and teens.

Data released in 2007 detailed the tobacco industry’s spending, including approximately $36 million a day ($13.1 billion annually) in marketing, in addition to $1.7 million in direct contributions to federal candidates and $96 million supplied to state-level candidates, committees and ballot measure campaigns during the 2005 and 2006 election cycle.

Despite signing a settlement agreement with state attorneys general in October 2006 prohibiting the marketing of candy, fruit, and alcohol-flavored cigarettes, RJ Reynolds violated the spirit of the agreement by introducing a new line of flavored cigarettes barely seven months later; survey data has shown that these products are favored by smokers aged 17 to 19.

During 2007, two major public health reports — from the President’s Cancer Panel and the Institute of Medicine — heralded the need for the federal and state governments to take urgent action to reduce America’s tobacco epidemic.
The American Lung Association has helped millions of Americans quit smoking through our Lung HelpLine, 1-800-LUNGUSA, and through our smoking cessation programs, including Freedom From Smoking®, considered to be the “gold standard” of group-setting, smoking cessation programs and Not on Tobacco, or N-O-T, a nationally recognized smoking cessation program for youth.

The full State of Tobacco Control 2007 report can be viewed at: