When it comes to tobacco control, some states do a far better job than others of preventing and reducing smoking.

A new report from the American Lung Association (ALA) notes that California, Maine, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., are doing the best job of putting proven tobacco control policies in place.

Conversely, those who have the most need to enact policies are Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.

Policies vary widely from state to state. Some states still allow workplace smoking, including in restaurants and bars. Others have had smoke-free laws in place for decades.

“The policies examined in our report have a direct impact on the health of state residents,” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Since no state received all ‘A’ grades, every state has the opportunity to improve their tobacco control policies and improve public health. This is also why federal tobacco control action is so important. Every person in America deserves the same protections.”

The report grades states on the strength of their smoke-free workplace laws, ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, funding for state tobacco prevention programs, the level of state tobacco taxes, and coverage and access to services to quit tobacco.

Grades varied, with 23 states and Washington, D.C., getting A grades for strength of their smoke-free workplace laws and 45 states receiving F grades for ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products. Washington, D.C., and 40 states got an F grade for funding for tobacco prevention, while 32 states got an F for level of state tobacco taxes. And 24 states got a grade of D or worse for coverage and access to services to help quit tobacco.

Meanwhile, federal efforts to prevent youth tobacco use resulted in improved grades for the federal government, from a D to a C.

The federal government’s actions in 2022 to prevent and reduce tobacco use included
proposing rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, Congress passing a law requiring the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products made with synthetic nicotine, and increased federal enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act.

The report noted that more enforcement actions by the Justice Department and FDA
will be needed in 2023 to reduce the explosion of illegal, flavored e-cigarettes on the market.

“In 2023, it is imperative that FDA and the Biden administration finalize its proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. When finalized, these rules will be the most significant, lifesaving action [the] FDA has taken in its almost 14-year history of regulating tobacco products,” Wimmer said in an ALA news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on smoking cessation.

SOURCE: American Lung Association, news release, Jan. 25, 2023