Jan 15, 2009

Michigan flunks in protecting its citizens from the ravages of tobacco use

LANSING – It came as no surprise to people paying attention, but Michigan received a failing grade from the American Lung Association in protecting its citizens from the ravages of tobacco use.

The ALA released its Fifth Annual American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control (SOTC) report at a press conference Wednesday at the Capitol, and the state received its failing grade primarily because policymakers in Michigan have not yet adopted strong, comprehensive polices to adequately protect citizens; despite the fact that nearly 40,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases.

"Michigan clearly has a long way to go in its fight against tobacco,” said Susan Schechter, Program and Advocacy Specialist for the American Lung Association of Michigan. “To begin with, Michigan legislators need to step up and pass a statewide smoke free worksite regulation that includes restaurants and bars and allocate more dollars towards tobacco prevention programs."

It looks like that will finally be a priority in Michigan after 10 years of stonewalling. The 95th Michigan Legislature opened Wednesday, but generally not a lot is done until the Governor outlines her legislative agenda in the State of the State address set for February 3 this year. However, she said a major task the Legislature can accomplish now is the workplace smoking ban, and Gov. Granholm told Capitol reporters on Tuesday that she would like the Legislature to resolve the workplace smoking ban issue as quickly as possible.

The report gave Michigan the following grades:

• Tobacco Prevention and Control Spending, Grade: F

• Smokefree Air, Grade: F

• Cigarette Taxes, Grade: A

• Youth Access to Tobacco Products, Grade: F

Also contributing to the failing grade was the fact Michigan continues to under fund tobacco prevention programs, falling well short of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended investment of $121.2 million, and the state spent a mere $3.6 million in 2008.

Only Michigan's $2 a pack tax earned them a passing grade. Higher taxes makes cigarettes more expensive, which not only deters kids from starting to smoke, but also motivates adults to quit. I know that was one of the motivating factors for me to quit.

No comments: