American Lung Association gives mixed reports for R.I., Mass. tobacco policies

Local News

(WPRI) – The American Lung Association says tobacco use continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 480,000 people every year.

The ALA reports 1,800 Rhode Islanders die annually from tobacco use, along with 9,000 Massachusetts residents.

Every year, the ALA releases its “State of Tobacco Control” report, assigning letter grades to each state for specific areas of tobacco control.

The report, released early Wednesday morning, gave Rhode Island sub-par marks in nearly every category.

Here’s the breakdown for the Ocean State:

  • 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 D
  • Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F

The worst grades are related to preventing youth from accessing and using tobacco products.

The report commended Rhode Island lawmakers and Governor Gina Raimondo (D) for recently passing a law banning the use of e-cigarettes on school grounds, as well as requiring child-resistant packaging for liquid used in the devices.

Other recommendations for the state included raising the legal purchasing age for tobacco from 18 to 21, adding e-cigarettes to smoke-free workplace laws, and banning smoking in casinos.

It should be noted that the town of Barrington has already raised the purchase age for tobacco to 21.

Massachusetts fared better overall, earning a couple “A” grades and only one “F.”

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

As with Rhode Island, the ALA’s top recommendation for Massachusetts was to raise the purchase age for tobacco from 18 to 21, as well as including e-cigarettes in smoke-free workplace laws.

In addition, the report encouraged state lawmakers to expand the reach of tobacco control initiatives and education through increased funding.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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