Montana Gets Three ‘F’ Grades for Tobacco Control
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The American Lung Association has released its State of Tobacco Control grade for Montana, and the results are not good.
KGVO News spoke to Carrie Nyssen, Senior Director of Advocacy, American Lung Association in Montana about the three ‘F’ grades, one ‘A’ and one ‘B’ the state received. She expressed regret that the grades are still necessary after such a long campaign to end smoking in the U.S.
Montana gets Three 'F's', One 'A' and one 'B' for Tobacco Control
“To me, it's amazing that we're still dealing with this problem, but that's why the American Lung Association puts out annually a report called the State of Tobacco Control,” began Nyssen. “And what this report does is it takes a look at five evidence-based policy areas that states can enact, and if they do enact, they're going to see an impact on tobacco use in their state.”
Those five policy areas are funding for state tobacco prevention programs; state tobacco taxes; smoke-free workplace laws; coverage of and access to services to quit tobacco and ending the sale of flavored tobacco products.
A Small Percentage of Tobacco-Related Revenue Actually goes to Prevention
“Montana brings in $101 million of tobacco-related revenue per year,” she said. “Those are dollars that are coming in through collected tobacco taxes and dollars that are coming in through the master settlement agreement from tobacco companies in 1995. States sued the tobacco companies and there was a settlement that was reached and so states are receiving dollars from tobacco companies to mitigate the harms that their deadly product is creating.”
She provided details on one of Montana’s ‘F’ grades.
“We know that the higher costs of the tobacco product, the more it encourages current users to quit. Montana's current rate is $1.70, so that receives an F grade,” she said. “And the other ‘F’ that we have is in flavored tobacco products. We know about this youth epidemic and the use of electronic cigarettes or vaping devices, and we know that the attractive thing about these products to us is the flavors.”
They Say There is a Bill in Helena Seeking to Allow Smoking in the Workplace
The ‘A’ grade came from Montana's smoke-free workplace law; however, Nyssen said that is now under attack as well in Helena.
“The ‘A’ is from smoke-free air, which is really exciting,” she said. It's good to have all public places and workplaces smoke-free. However, I will say there's a bill in Helena that wants to get around this and to once again allow smoking in establishments. So we're really concerned about that not only for the health harms that have caused exposure to secondhand smoke but just have smoking again in establishments is really a step backward when it comes to public health.”
Click here to get the report for Montana from the American Lung Association.