Emphasis this past year was placed on funding for Pennsylvania's tobacco prevention and cessation program. Gov. Tom Corbett's Administration designated $14.2 million for tobacco control in the fiscal year 2013 budget which is slightly higher than the amount allocated in fiscal year 2012. This is considered a major victory since many other public health programs received no funding or damaging cuts.
The money received annually from the Master Settlement Agreement was originally dedicated to be used for uncompensated healthcare, tobacco cessation and prevention, research and healthcare assistance. While 12 percent of the funds coming into Pennsylvania are dedicated to tobacco prevention and cessation in the law, lawmakers have routinely decreased this amount as a result of temporary fiscal code changes. The Lung Association continues to advocate for raising this amount to the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pennsylvania is the only state without an excise tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes. The Lung Association and its partners focused on education regarding the importance of setting a percentage of wholesale price tax to allow the tax to keep up with inflation and tobacco industry price increases. Governor Corbett, prior to his election, signed a no new tax pledge and therefore indicated he would not push for any new taxes, even on cancer-causing tobacco products. Unfortunately, this means approximately $100 million in revenue was left on the table in the Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania's clean indoor air law eliminates smoking in many public places and workplaces, including most restaurants, but it has a number of exemptions, including for casinos and some bars. A bill to remove all the exemptions was filed in both the state House of Representatives and Senate in 2012, but was not released from committee. The Lung Association will continue to work on cleaning up the current law to protect all workers in Pennsylvania from secondhand smoke.
A bill was also introduced in the Senate to require comprehensive coverage of tobacco cessation treatments under private health insurance plans issued in the state. Sadly, the bill did not even get a hearing.
In 2013, the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania will continue to focus on efforts to reduce tobacco use and secondhand smoke that stalled in 2012 and defend Pennsylvania's current level of tobacco prevention and cessation funding.
|•||Economic Cost Due to Smoking:||$9,423,966,000|
|•||Adult Smoking Rate:||22.3%|
|•||High School Smoking Rate:||18.6%|
|•||Middle School Smoking Rate:||3.4%|
|•||Smoking Attributable Deaths:||20,025|
|•||Smoking Attributable Lung Cancer Deaths:||6,395|
|•||Smoking Attributable Respiratory Disease Deaths:||4,971|
Adult smoking rate is taken from CDC's 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school and middle school smoking rates are taken from the 2010 Youth Tobacco Survey.