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WA Breathes Easier: New Tobacco "Report Card"

January 11, 2008

Seattle, WA – Washington gets high grades from the American Lung Association for its measures to control smoking, but the Association says there's more to be done. It also warns there may be efforts to weaken anti-tobacco measures.

Every year, the ALA ranks states and the federal government on their tobacco control policies with grades from A down to F. Washington rates A and B grades, based on its 2005 smoke-free law, high cigarette taxes and policies meant to keep tobacco from getting into the hands of children.

The Association's positive report, however, doesn't cover possible attempts to weaken the smoke-free law in the upcoming legislative session. Paul Payton of the ALA state office says this seems to be an annual battle.

"The tobacco lobbyists are very powerful. They've got a lot more resources compared to our organization. The challenges we get, we anticipate each year."

Payton expects tobacco companies may challenge the 25-foot law that keeps outdoor smokers away from doorways and windows by at least that distance. Smokeless tobacco and cigar bars also may come up for debate as well.

Despite Washington's good report card, 17 percent of adults and 15 percent of teenagers smoke. Those rates are still high, Payton warns, as are rates in specific populations, particularly Native Americans and Vietnamese men.

The ALA report also notes that the state could allocate much more money than it does to help people quit smoking.

As for the federal government, the Association gave it three F's and one D, based on its lack of tobacco regulations.

The ALA "State of Tobacco Control 2007" report can be viewed online at
www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA