Virginia flunks American Lung Association annual report

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – The American Lung Association recently released its 18th annual report on Virginia’s efforts to reduce smoking-related illnesses. Areas of improvement include the ‘Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws’, ‘Level of State Tobacco Taxes’, ‘Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco’, ‘Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs.’ In all categories, Virginia received an “F” grading.

“Virginia needs to really… I think use this report as an opportunity and a call to action to take a hard look at the tobacco control policies in Virginia, and really I think is an opportunity to come together now around a comprehensive tobacco control effort.”

Aleks Casper – Director of Advocacy / American Lung Association – Virginia

One of several methods for reducing the number of cigarettes and e-cig smokers includes an increase in the tobacco tax. Studies show that raising tobacco taxes by 10% reduces consumption by nearly 4% with adults and 7% among youth, according to the ALA. Also, the association says Virginia does not require tobacco and e-cigarette retailers to hold a tobacco retail license. Without this retail license program, it’s very difficult to enforce laws or penalize illegal sales of tobacco products.

“low increase or gradual increases, those can easily be offset by tobacco industry… use of promotions and couponing, so it has to be that significant increase that we see a real change.”

Aleks Casper – Director of Advocacy / American Lung Association – Virginia

Health concerns are the main focus of these annual studies. The days of smoky restaurants – and stinky, stained fingers and teeth – are fading, although vaping is on the rise. E-cigs look different, smell different and work differently than we’re used to, but the health concerns are still the same.

“at the age of 25 to 26, all human beings’ lungs start to deteriorate, you know that’s just how our bodies are made. With smoking, not only do they deteriorate, they deteriorate at a rapid level in terms of breaking down that tissue… and only do you see kind of the normal level of break down occur after two years of stopping smoking.”

Amit K. Mahajan, MD / American Lung Association Volunteer Medical Spokesperson

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