Highlights: California

For more than 20 years, the American Lung Association in California has led California to forge new ground in combatting the harmful effects of tobacco use where we live, work and play. In 2013, the Lung Association again focused on two main policy priorities: (1) increasing the state's tobacco tax; and (2) creating smokefree multi-unit housing policies in California.

The American Lung Association in California continues its efforts to increase the state's tobacco tax both through the legislature and through the initiative process. Senate Bill 768 (Kevin DeLeon, D-Los Angeles) was introduced this year and was approved by several committees. Both the initiative and the bill will ensure funding for the state's tobacco control program as well as much needed revenue to improve access to healthcare, including the treatment of cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and other diseases related to tobacco use for low-income families and individuals through a $2.00 per pack increase in the tobacco tax. Currently, California taxes cigarettes at only 87 cents per pack - one of the country's lowest tobacco taxes, placing 33rd. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have cigarette tax rates of $1.00 per pack or higher, and California has not raised its tobacco tax since 1998. The fight to raise the tobacco tax in California will continue once the state legislature returns in January 2014, and the Lung Association will continue to lead the effort to ensure that children never begin to smoke, and adults have the needed resources to quit.

Also on the legislative front, the American Lung Association in California sponsored Assembly Bill 746 (Mark Levine, D-San Rafael), which would have prohibited smoking in apartment buildings and condominiums throughout California. Based on the growing momentum these policies are experiencing at the local level, this bill sought to protect the 5 million Californians in multi-family homes from drifting secondhand smoke. Although this bill was not approved this year, it received great support throughout the state and it will be revisited in 2014. The attention generated from this legislation helped push the issue forward, and highlighted the need for secondhand smoke protections in the place where people should feel safest, their homes.

As 2014 begins, so does a new legislative session with continued opportunities to focus the American Lung Association in California's efforts on strengthening the state's tobacco control program through an increase in the state tobacco tax and on advocating for smokefree multi-unit housing both statewide and locally. The Lung Association remains committed to collaborating at the local level in communities across California to pass strong and effective tobacco control laws where people live, work and play. Through this effort, we will continue to prevent kids from ever picking up their first cigarette, motivate current smokers to quit and fight the lung diseases that so often result from, or are exacerbated by, smoking.

California State Facts

Economic Cost Due to Smoking: $18,135,550,000
Adult Smoking Rate: 12.6%
High School Smoking Rate: 13.8%
Middle School Smoking Rate: 4.8%
Smoking Attributable Deaths: 36,684
Smoking Attributable Lung Cancer Deaths: 10,715
Smoking Attributable Respiratory Disease Deaths: 10,860

Adult smoking rate is taken from CDC's 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school and middle school smoking rates are taken from the 2010 California Student Tobacco Survey.

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