BOSTON (State House News Service) — Massachusetts earned strong marks for its ban on flavored tobacco products and smoke-free workplace laws, but a new report from the American Lung Association gave the state a failing grade for its level of investment in tobacco-use prevention programming.
The ALA released its 20th annual "State of Tobacco Control" report last week and gave Massachusetts mixed reviews. While the state was the first to ban all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, the organization said Massachusetts continues to fund tobacco control programs at just 11 percent of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"If we want to continue our progress and leadership on tobacco control policy we must do more to prevent youth from initiating tobacco use, help those who want to quit and address the unequal burden of tobacco use in communities experiencing health disparities," said Trevor Summerfield, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts combined $5.6 million in state dollars with $1.9 million in federal funding for tobacco control in fiscal year 2022, well shy of the $66.9 million total spending recommended by the CDC. In addition to putting more tobacco settlement funding into cessation programs, the American Lung Association recommended increasing the state's $3.51 per pack tax on cigarettes by at least $1.
The report gave Massachusetts an "A" for its workplace smoking laws and ban on flavored tobacco, a "B" for its level of state tobacco taxes and a "C" for health insurance coverage and access to services to help smokers quit. According to the report, the state invests $1.38 per smoker in its quit help line, which is below the $2.41 median for states.
Smoking, according to the ALA, costs Massachusetts over $4 billion a year for health care and is responsible for 9,300 deaths annually. The adult smoking rate is 11.4 percent, but tobacco use among high school students is 37 percent, with a smoking rate of 6.4 percent.
The data on smoking rates and health care costs were collected before menthol products were removed from the shelves.
Written by Matt Murphy, SHNS