Virginia ranks among worst in nation for tobacco use prevention policies

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 1:59 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A new report from the American Lung Association says Virginia’s policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use are some of the worst in the nation.

ALA Director of Advocacy Aleks Casper says that the states with the worst policies are Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Virginia’s adult smoking rate is 12.4%, and it’s high school tobacco usage rate is 22.5%.

“Virginia got all F’s in the report with the exception of a D in cessation services. They’ve made some slight improvement around cessation services,” Casper said.

He says that Virginia also has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the nation.

“Multiple studies have showed us that when you do a 10% increase, especially on cigarettes, it reduces consumption by about 4% in adults and 7% in youth,” Casper said. “That’s key, and also looking at taxing all tobacco products added at a equalized rate or what we call parity.”

Casper says that making one product cheaper than another will only cause people to switch to the less expensive one.

“Youth population that is using tobacco products, specifically e-cigarettes, is at an epidemic level, and so I think it’s really important that we know there are policies in place that can help address this if we want to move forward and make that commitment,” Casper said.

The report says tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America, taking the lives of more than 10,000 Virginians annually.

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