By Michael Hackett
The American Lung Association recently released its 2018 “State of Tobacco Control” report which grades states on how they prevent and reduce tobacco use. The report grades Nevada as failing in:
- Funding for state tobacco prevention programs – Grade F
- Strength of smoke free workplace laws – Grade C
- Level of state tobacco taxes – Grade F
- Coverage and access to services to quit tobacco – Grade F
- Minimum age of sale for tobacco products raised to 21 – Grade F
Adult smoking in Nevada has dropped to its lowest level with only 16.5 percent of residents reporting smoking. But despite these decreases, smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease, and on average smokers die ten years earlier than non-smokers. As these grades show, there is more work to be done to prevent and reduce smoking and tobacco use.
Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition (NPTC) and its statewide partners urge state lawmakers to enact proven measures to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke by:
- Improving Nevada’s Clean Indoor Air Act to include all indoor places. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and workers across Nevada would benefit from a smoke free law that eliminates smoking in all indoor public spaces and workplaces. This is especially important for those who work in the service sector and breathe secondhand cigarette smoke daily throughout their shift.
- Raising the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21. Increasing the age of tobacco sales to 21 has been shown to reduce high school smoking by over 50 percent and can help Nevada reduce youth smoking rates, which have fallen to 7.5 percent from a high of 32.9 percent in 1995.
- Investing more funds for tobacco control efforts. The tobacco industry spends billions of dollars each year on cigarette advertising and promotions and yet Nevada invests only $950,000 of state funds on tobacco control programs. This is far below what is needed to prevent and reduce tobacco use in Nevada. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that Nevada invest $32.5 million in tobacco control annually, but the state invests only about 3 percent of this amount despite bringing in more than $240 million in tobacco-related revenue.
We know what works to reduce tobacco use. Tobacco control is one of the “best buys” in public health. States with strong tobacco control programs benefit from improved health and reduced health care costs. Nevada needs to invest in these proven efforts to prevent tobacco-caused death and disease and to improve our community’s health.
The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report can be found at: http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/tobacco/reports-resources/sotc/.
Michael Hackett is president of Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition, a partnership of concerned Nevadans, organizations, and public health officials in a statewide movement to end Big Tobacco’s grip on our state. NTPC focuses on grassroots organizing, media outreach, public policy, and increasing the funds and manpower to fight against tobacco in Nevada. More information at www.TobaccoFreeNV.org. Hackett is also the principal of Alrus Consulting, a Reno-based government relations firm and was campaign manager for the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act statewide ballot initiative in 2006.