Highlights: United States

The beginning of the Obama Administration’s second term saw increased action at the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products. In March of 2013, Mitch Zeller became the second director of the Center for Tobacco Products. In June, FDA issued orders authorizing two products as substantially equivalent and the applications of over one hundred others were withdrawn. In July, FDA released its internal menthol report in conjunction with an advanced notice for proposed rulemaking, to which the Lung Association submitted comments in November.

Once again, the Obama Administration failed to move forward with giving FDA authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, hookah, pipe tobacco and some other dissolvable tobacco products. The January 2014 Surgeon General’s report makes clear that the White House must empower FDA to move aggressively to reduce the deadly burden caused by tobacco use.

In 2013, the Administration made no further moves to define a comprehensive quit smoking benefit, leaving health plans up to their own devices to determine what medications will be covered and which, if any, of the three forms of counseling will be added. Preventive services, including tobacco cessation, must be covered in most plans at no cost to the patient, but because studies show that plans are falling short, the Lung Association has called for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to specifically define a comprehensive cessation benefit.

In January 2013, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation requiring federal tobacco tax equivalence across all products (i.e. increase the tax on other tobacco products to the level of cigarettes). This legislation would eliminate any financial incentive for tobacco users to switch to a tobacco product taxed at lesser levels, and result in more users quitting. A March 2013 Bloomberg News report highlighted this issue: it found a dozen cigar manufacturers added kitty litter clay to its products to add weight and be taxed at a lower rate – costing the U.S. Treasury billions of dollars. In November 2013, the American Lung Association urged Congress to close these loopholes as part of its latest fiscal negotiation package.

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the second round of its "Tips from Former Smokers" mass media campaign. This campaign, which features additional testimonials from real former smokers living with disease caused by tobacco use, served as an avenue to discourage smoking and encourage quitting, by featuring the federal government’s phone quit smoking resource, 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Initial evidence shows that the media campaign increased the number of people calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW by 75 percent.

United States Facts

Economic Costs Due to Smoking: $192,775,000,000
Adult Smoking Rates: 18.0%
High School Smoking Rates: 14.0%
Middle School Smoking Rates: 3.5%
Smoking Attributable Deaths Rates: 392,681
Smoking Attributable Lung Cancer Death Rates: 125,522
Smoking Attributable Respiratory Disease Death: 103,338

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Spread the Word

The American Lung Association’s annual "State of Tobacco Control" report was released nationwide on Wednesday, January 22, 2014.

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Surgeon General’s Report

Despite the great progress of the past, in the last few years, tobacco control efforts have slowed and in some areas, even stalled.

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