Pa. gets 2 F's in anti-tobacco fight
By Tony LaRussa
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:42 a.m.
Pennsylvania got failing marks last year on two key efforts to reduce tobacco use and managed only passing grades in two other areas used to gauge success in controlling tobacco, according to a report issued by the American Lung Association on Wednesday.
The Lung Association pins much of the state's lackluster results on the amount of money spent by the tobacco industry to build support for its products, saying “state and federal policy makers are failing to battle a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry.”
Tobacco manufacturers and retailers gave $53.4 million to state candidates for office, political parties and to oppose tobacco-related ballot measures during the 2011-12 election cycle, according to a separate report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
That report found that “Pennsylvania must make it a priority to invest in programs that keep kids off tobacco and to help smokers quit,” said Deb Brown, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic.
“That starts with increasing Pennsylvania's current level of tobacco prevention and cessation funding,” she said.
The Lung Association estimates that tobacco use results in the death of 20,025 people each year in Pennsylvania.
The report also found that while Pennsylvania gets $1.4 billion in tobacco-related revenue each year, it spends only 11 percent of the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fund programs to prevent tobacco use prevention and quit smoking programs.
The tobacco industry also was criticized for increasing smoking by introducing new products such as low-priced cigars made with candy flavoring.
Pennsylvania received the following grades for 2012:
• “F” in funding for tobacco prevention and control programs.
• “C” in policies that result in smoke-free air.
• “C” for the amount of cigarette taxes levied.
• “F” for cessation coverage.
Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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