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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How Do States Rank With Tobacco Control?

Tobacco use in the United States, while significantly less in recent years, is still a major concern - especially among teenagers and young adults. People who smoke are at an increased risk of developing life threatening illnesses, and tobacco related illnesses are one of the leading causes of preventable death in this country. A number of states and municipalities have taken drastic measures to reduce the toll of tobacco use, such as raising prices and age limits and educating young people about the dangers associated with use.

However, in several states where tobacco use has caused the most damage, little is done to combat the problem. A new analysis conducted by USA Today found that states hit the hardest by tobacco use often have the least aggressive approach to mitigating the problem. It probably comes as little surprise to learn that the states in question are those known for tobacco cultivation. Despite Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee having the poorest and sickest residents, they only spend a minor fraction of the federal government’s recommended minimum for tobacco education and enforcement.

States found to be doing the worst with regard to tobacco control and have the highest impact of use include:
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Missouri
  • West Virginia
  • Mississippi
The analysis found that states which scored high on aggressiveness and low on tobacco impact included Hawaii, New York and Utah, according to the article. It’s probably worth noting that Hawaii recently became the first state to raise the minimum age for tobacco use to 21. A number of other states are considering similar legislation.

The researchers used government smoking data to create two scores for grading states, an “impact score” and an “aggressiveness score.” The impact score was arrived at by combining smoking rates and the public perception about the dangers of use, the article reports. The aggressiveness score combined:
  • Taxes
  • Bans
  • State Spending
  • Advertising Restrictions
  • Severity of Fines for Selling to Minors
On top of being deadly, tobacco use is highly addictive. There have been studies that indicate that people in recovery for addiction should be weary of tobacco use. Recent findings indicate that tobacco use can significantly increase one’s risk of relapse.

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