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Utah Gets Mixed Grades on Tobacco-Control Programs

The American Lung Association recently rated each of the 50 states on their tobacco control policies (audelfin/morguefile)
February 5. 2016
The American Lung Association recently rated each of the 50 states on their tobacco control policies (audelfin/morguefile)

SALT LAKE CITY - The American Lung Association says Utah does a good job of protecting its citizens from secondhand smoke, but rates poorly in other areas of tobacco control.

In a recent report, Utah received an "F" in both smoking prevention and programs to help smokers quit, and a "D" for how it taxes tobacco. JoAnna Strother, director of public policy for the American Lung Association of the Southwest, says Utah gets an "A" for keeping the air smoke-free.

"They're doing really great on the smoke-free air," says Strother. "They really do protect their citizens from secondhand smoke, protect workers who work in those establishments, so we're really proud of those efforts."

The Lung Association recently rated all 50 states on their levels of tobacco control. Strother says Utah was rated low because it only spends about 44 percent of the recommended level for smoking-prevention programs, although it takes in more than $150 million a year in tobacco-related tax revenues. She says the state also falls short in providing programs to help people quit smoking.

Strother adds while many other states got higher grades than Utah, the country as a whole could be doing a lot better.

"We're seeing there's a lot more that we can be doing in helping people to quit smoking, or protecting those from secondhand smoke, or protecting our youth from starting," says Strother. "So, across the board, there's a lot of work to be done."

The American Lung Association rated each state against tobacco-control criteria developed by the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - UT