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State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues: 2008 Mid-Term Report

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Abstract:

This report, written at the end of the 2008 state legislative sessions, shows that the passing of smoke-free air laws has slowed down in most states. Only two states this year—Iowa and Nebraska—have approved legislation to strengthen existing laws. In both jurisdictions, smoking will be prohibited in public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars, although in Iowa, it will be permitted in casinos. Two more states—New York and Massachusetts—as well as the District of Columbia, have approved cigarette tax increases. New York is the most notable with an increase of $1.25 per pack.

In addition, budgets for tobacco control programs in most states are either staying level or declining despite increases in Master Settlement Agreement payments. Several states provided coverage for smoking cessation products under Medicaid programs. Despite progress in reducing the toll of tobacco, tobacco products remain the number one cause of death in the United States killing more than 438,000 people annually.

New York is a good example of how successful tobacco control policies can be with its smoking rate declining from 2002 to 2006 by 4.1 percent. The report concludes that we know how to reduce the tobacco epidemic, but now we need the political will.