January 30, 2019

CT gets poor marks for tobacco-prevention programs

Photo | Flickr via Raul Lieberwirth
Photo | Flickr via Raul Lieberwirth

Connecticut's efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use among adults and youth received middling-to-poor marks in the American Lung Association's 17th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report.

ALA's report, released Wednesday, whacked Connecticut for its recent budget-balancing raids of tobacco prevention and cessation funding. It was one of three states that provided no funding at all for those programs last year. That's despite the fact that Connecticut raised more than $500 million in revenue from tobacco-related taxes and legal settlements, the report said.

However, Connecticut wasn't alone. Less than 3 percent of the $27.3 billion in total tobacco taxes and settlement revenue collected by states is going to those programs, ALA said.

Like Connecticut, the vast majority of states also got an "F" for funding prevention and quitting programs.

The same was true for Connecticut's failing grade for its law that allows 18-year-olds to buy cigarettes.

While Maine, Massachusetts, and several others have raised their smoking age, Connecticut and most other states have not, earning an "F." Some municipalities, like Hartford and Bridgeport, have voted to raise the smoking age within their borders.

ALA gave Connecticut a "B"' for its relatively high cigarette tax rate.

While legislative raids have weakened Connecticut's tobacco programs, the smoking rate has dropped.

In October, the chairwoman of the state's Tobacco and Health Trust Fund, Anne Foley, said that the approximately $29 million the trust had doled out over its lifetime had resulted in reductions of 41 percent and 86 percent in the adult and youth smoking rates, respectively.

Read ALA's report here.

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