How does your state or country tackle tobacco?

There is very good evidence that adopting a strategy of comprehensive tobacco control can be effective at reducing the number of people smoking. “Comprehensive tobacco control” means a combination of strategies including mass media campaigns, smoke-free air legislation, increased tax on tobacco products, youth education and peer-led projects, provision of tobacco dependence treatment, interventions at the level of the healthcare system, community outreach and education, and evaluation procedures.

In the USA, states such as California and Massachusetts that pioneered this type of approach were successful in reducing tobacco use. It is also clear that these interventions tend not to just appear out of thin air, but need to be adequately funded. When the funding is cut, we find that the decrease in tobacco consumption slows down or stops.

As we now know which policies are effective in reducing tobacco use, a scale has been developed in order to score or rank countries according to the adequacy of their tobacco control interventions. If you are interested in seeing how 30 European countries scored on this scale you can find out all the details via this link:

In the United States a slightly different but similar approach has been taken by the American Lung Association, who every year publish a scorecard for every state in the nation along 4 key variables: 1. Tobacco control funding 2. Smokefree air legislation 3. Cigarette taxation and 4. Youth access.

Unfortunately, only 9 states obtained an A rating for tobacco control funding – meaning that their annual spending on tobacco control approached the minimum recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Overall, the most frequent grade was an F, with the federal government also receiving an overall F grade for tobacco control.

The fact that over 2005-6 the two largest tobacco companies contributed $96 million to political party campaigns may have something to do with this.
To see how your state is doing and read the whole report, click on the link:

The single most important thing you can do to ensure that your children and grandhildren will be less likely to smoke and more likely to live a long healthy life, (apart from not smoking yourself), is to vigorously support the funding and implementation of comprehensive tobacco control policies.
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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.