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Texas Gets Failing Grade for Lack of Tobacco-Control Laws, Programs

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

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas gets a failing grade for its statewide tobacco-control policies, according to the American Lung Association.

The group rates states based on categories such as tobacco prevention and control, tobacco tax rates, smoke-free air and access to smoking-cessation services. JoAnna Strother, director of public policy for the American Lung Association of the Southwest, said Texas came up short across the board.

"Texas did fail in all four categories," she said. "The one thing I want to point out about Texas is, it does not have a comprehensive statewide law. So, Texas is one of 22 states that has yet to fully protect citizens from secondhand smoke."

Strother said the report shows that Texas spends only about 5 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended amount on smoking-prevention programs, although it takes in almost $2 billion a year in tobacco-related tax revenues. She added that the state spends almost $9 billion per year on smoking-related health-care costs and lost productivity.

However, Strother said that individual towns and cities are making an effort. More than 40 across the state have passed laws to limit smoking in public places, but the state itself has yet to act. While most other states got higher grades than Texas, Strother said the country as a whole could be doing a lot better.

"We're seeing that 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," she said. "So, across the board, there's a lot of work to be done."

The American Lung Association ranks each of the 50 states against tobacco-control criteria primarily developed by the U.S. Surgeon General and the CDC.

The report is online at lung.org.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - TX