Most states are still failing to implement proven and effective tobacco control policies that save lives and money, despite the fact that several increased cigarette taxes and passed smokefree legislation in 2009. According to a new report released by the American Lung Association, very few states are funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs at levels that truly make a difference in the smoking rate of its citizens.

In its annual update of State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues or SLATI, now in its 22nd year of publication, the American Lung Association tracks the passage of legislation and other state policies related to tobacco control and prevention, including tobacco taxes, smokefree laws and funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. SLATI is the only comprehensive and up-to-date source for state tobacco control laws across the country. While the published edition is issued once a year, the website is updated regularly to reflect changes in tobacco control laws as they take effect.

To date, 27 states - including Michigan and Wisconsin in 2009 - have passed comprehensive smokefree laws meeting the American Lung Association's Smokefree Air Challenge. Kansas was the most recent state to pass a smokefree law, which will take effect July 1, 2010.

In addition, a whopping 14 states - Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin - as well as the District of Columbia - increased their cigarette taxes in 2009. As of January 1, 2010, the average state cigarette tax stood at $1.34 per pack - an increase of 15 cents since January 1, 2009, and a dramatic increase from only 44.6 cents per pack on January 1, 2002. Five states - Hawaii, New Mexico, South Carolina, Utah and Washington - have increased their cigarette taxes so far in 2010.

"Unfortunately, despite increasing cigarette taxes, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia also cut funding by 25 percent or more to programs that help smokers quit and prevent kids from starting," said Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "Even worse, New Hampshire raised the cigarette tax in 2009, yet doesn't spend a single dime of state money on these vital programs."

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released last month notes that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces smoking by four percent among adults and seven percent among youth. Even more reductions in smoking rates come when states use the tax money for specific tobacco control programs. However, according to SLATI 2009, not enough states are doing so.

Each day, almost 4,000 kids under 18 start smoking cigarettes and close to 1,000 of them become regular users. "The revenue increased tobacco taxes generate can and should be used in part to fund state tobacco control programs. This is how we can save even more lives from the death and disease caused by tobacco use," added Connor.

A PDF version of SLATI is available online. SLATI 2009 complements an American Lung Association report released in January 2010, the State of Tobacco Control 2009 report, which grades state tobacco control laws and policies. For more information and to view that report, view our State of Tobacco Control.

American Lung Association

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