American Lung Association gives Oregon an 'A' for air, 'F' for prevention

Oregon may have strong smoke-free laws, but it has a long way to go in its efforts to curtail smoking, the American Lung Association announced in a new national tobacco control report card released today.

Oregon received an "A" for its smoke-free air laws, but a "D" for its cigarette tax levels and an "F" for its funding of tobacco prevention and smoking cessation, according to the association’s 12th annual State of Tobacco Control report.

The report found that Oregon:

  • Will spend $11 million on tobacco control programs in fiscal year 2014, only a quarter of the amount recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Has a cigarette tax of $1.31 per pack, which is lower than the national average of $1.53 per pack.
  • Spends only $1.93 per smoker on the state’s tobacco “quitline,” far below the CDC-recommended investment of $10.53 per smoker.
  • Includes health plans in its Medicaid program that set limits on tobacco cessation efforts. Programs are limited in duration, smokers are limited in the number of times they can attempt to quit, and prior authorization is required to get medication.

The report also noted such successes as an additional $4 million investment in tobacco prevention in 2013 as a result of the tobacco lawsuit, and the adoption of the “Smokefree Cars for Kids” law.

“We are proud that Oregon is the sixth state in the country to pass such protections for children from secondhand smoke,” the report read.

Despite the low grades, Oregon is not far behind the rest of the country. It is one of 40 states that received an "F" for tobacco control spending, and one of 34 states that received an F for its tobacco cessation efforts.

Oregon also is one of 26 states that received an "A" for their smoke-free air laws.

Smoking remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and illness, the association said in its report.

More than 43.2 million Americans smoke, about 18 percent of the total population. The smoking rate in Oregon among adults also is 18 percent, along with a high school smoking rate of 11.5 percent and a middle school smoking rate of 6.6 percent.

Nearly 5,000 Oregonians die each year due to smoking-related illness, including 1,627 who die from lung cancer and 1,454 from respiratory disease.

“Fifty years after the Surgeon General first sounded the alarm on tobacco, the American Lung Association’s ‘State of Tobacco Control 2014’ calls on our nation to renew its commitment to eliminating tobacco use and eradicate tobacco-caused diseases,” the report concludes. “America cannot afford to allow tobacco use to claim another 50 years of senseless death and disease.”

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.

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