RI, Mass. earn mixed reviews in tobacco control report

Health

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The American Lung Association (ALA) is calling for more funding on tobacco prevention in all states.

Every year, the ALA releases its “State of Tobacco Control” report, assigning letter grades to each state for specific areas of tobacco control. This year’s report comes on the heels of both Rhode Island and Massachusetts banning flavored e-cigarette products.

The ALA says more needs to be done in education and prevention of tobacco use.

About a quarter of teenagers in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts are vaping. According to the report, tobacco use is still the country’s leading cause of preventable death and disease killing nearly half a million Americans each year.

The ALA calls on Rhode Island officials to take action by increasing funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, building on Gov. Gina Raimondo’s executive action prohibiting flavored e-cigarettes and ensuring enforcement of the new national tobacco age of sale in order to support public health and save lives in 2020.

Rhode Island Grades:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade: F
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade: A
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade: B
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade: C
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade: F

“Now is the time for lawmakers in Rhode Island to end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease,” said ALA Director of Advocacy in Rhode Island, Jennifer Wall.

The ALA applauds Massachusetts for its bold action to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products within the Commonwealth but maintains that the modernization of tobacco policy must include stronger support and resources for prevention and cessation to support public health and save lives in 2020.

Massachusetts Grades:

  • Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade: F
  • Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade: A
  • Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade: C
  • Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade: D
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade: A

“Now is the time for lawmakers in Massachusetts to build on their efforts to modernize tobacco policy by filling in the gaps for prevention and cessation. This is a real opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease,” said ALA Director of Advocacy Elizabeth Hamlin.

The Rhode Island Chapter of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association plans on holding a rally at 3 p.m. at the State House in protest of vaping restrictions.

Vape shop owners are struggling to stay open and some have closed due to the relatively new bans on flavored e-cigarette products.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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