Oklahoma earns D in Smokefree Air; Lung Association calls on legislators to take action
OKLAHOMA CITY – Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year. This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report from the American Lung Association finds Oklahoma earned failing grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use. The American Lung Association calls on Oklahoma officials to pass a comprehensive smokefree workplace law in order to save lives.
The need for Oklahoma to take action to protect youth from tobacco is more urgent than ever, with youth e-cigarette use reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. This equals one million additional kids beginning to use e-cigarettes, placing their developing bodies and lungs at risk from the chemicals in e-cigarettes as well as a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product. This has caused the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use among young people an epidemic in an Advisory issued in December 2018.
“In Oklahoma, our smoking rates remains at 20.1%. Tobacco use is a serious and deadly addiction and we need to invest in the proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use outlined in ‘State of Tobacco Control’,” said American Lung Association Advocacy Director, JoAnna Strother “The report provides a roadmap on how to save lives, but much work remains to be done in communities across Oklahoma to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”
The 17th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, and finds that while Oklahoma has taken significant steps to reduce tobacco use, including increasing the tax on cigarettes, elected officials must do more to save lives and ensure all Oklahoma residents benefit from reductions in tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke:
• Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade D
• Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws - Grade D
• Level of State Tobacco Taxes - Grade D
• Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco - Grade B
• Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Grade F
The American Lung Association encourages Oklahoma to fully fund tobacco control efforts at levels recommended by the CDC, and this year’s report highlights the need to focus on passing a comprehensive smokefree workplace law in Oklahoma.
The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and if Oklahoma passed a comprehensive smokefree law that eliminates smoking in all public places and workplaces, workers across the state would benefit. This health protection would benefit everyone and is especially critical for those who work in the service and manufacturing sectors who are often exposed to secondhand smoke daily.
“Opportunities for better health begin where people work, live and play, and a person should not have to be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke to put food on the table,” said Strother.
“This report provides a blueprint that states and the federal government can follow to put in place proven policies that will have the greatest impact on reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the U.S. The real question is: Will lawmakers in Oklahoma end their failure to act and take this opportunity to achieve lasting reductions in tobacco-related death and disease?”
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) Lung.org