Highlights: Pennsylvania

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association and its partners have committed to three bold goals:
1. Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent by 2024;
2. Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke by 2019; and
3. Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania recognizes that these bold goals will only be met in Pennsylvania if these following three actions are taken by our elected officials:
1. Remove the exemptions from the current state clean indoor air law
2. Increase the current cigarette excise tax by $1.00 per pack and establish a tax on other tobacco products equivalent to the cigarette tax.
3. Increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Two bills to remove exemptions from the current statewide clean indoor air law were introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, one in the state Senate and one in the state House of Representatives. About 70 percent of residents support extending the clean indoor air law to all restaurants, bars and casinos, according to a poll done by Franklin and Marshall College. Despite this and numerous requests from the Lung Association and others, neither bill was brought forth for a hearing.

A major priority for the Lung Association was to support efforts to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. In September, an arbitration committee ruled that Pennsylvania had failed to meet its burden of proof in exhibiting diligent enforcement of Non-Participating Manufacturers under the Tobacco Master Settlement agreement (MSA) during calendar year 2003. The consequence of the ruling resulted in an MSA payment reduction of $196.9 million. As a result, programs funded by MSA dollars were severely impacted. The Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, housed in the Department of Health, was reduced from $14.2 million to approximately $7 million. This level of funding made it impossible to provide a comprehensive program in Pennsylvania. A number of specific programs ceased immediately. Phone and worksite cessation programs did remain to help smokers quit. The Lung Association was very active in this process of helping to ensure services were maintained. Midway through the year, the monies were restored; however, much of the work and momentum was gone.

Bills to increase the state cigarette tax and establish a tax on other tobacco products were introduced in both the Senate and House, but went nowhere. However, the legislature did approve legislation that authorizes the city of Philadelphia to establish a local cigarette tax of $2.00 per pack, which when combined with the state cigarette tax will mean a combined $3.60 per pack cigarette tax rate in the city.

The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania will continue to educate lawmakers to pass policies to fight tobacco use. Our goal is to build champions within the legislature and a groundswell of advocates to advance our goals: a long overdue increase in the cigarette tax, the equalization of taxes on other tobacco products and funding to prevent our youth from starting to smoke as well as helping individuals who want to quit do so.

Pennsylvania State Facts

Economic Cost Due to Smoking: $9,423,966,000
Adult Smoking Rate: 21.0%
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 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school and middle school smoking rates are taken from the 2010 Youth Tobacco Survey.

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