Arkansas receives three failing grades on tobacco use report
A new report looks at the use of tobacco products in Arkansas, grading the state in several categories relating to prevention efforts and the impact of its use.
The American Lung Association’s State of Control 20th annual report showed that Arkansas failed in three out of five categories: tobacco prevention and control program funding, tobacco taxes, and flavored tobacco products. In the other two categories, access to cessation services and smoke-free air, the state received higher grades, a D and C respectively.
The association’s Senior Manager for Advocacy for Arkansas and Missouri Laura Turner expressed concern for the bad grade in funding state tobacco prevention programs.
“To me, the funding for state tobacco prevention programs, that’s something that we know goes a long way to help people quit smoking,” Turner said.
The adult smoking rate in the state is 20.5%. That leads to the spending of over a billion dollars in health care costs due to smoking.
“There are so many diseases that can be caused by tobacco use,” Turner said, “Heart disease, lung disease, cancer. If you just think of all the implications of that, how expensive those sort of treatments can be, it really does add up.”
While Arkansas’ grades on the report were the same as last year, national high school student’s use of disposable e-cigarettes grew to 55.8%.
To purchase tobacco in Arkansas you must be 21. E-cigarettes can be sold in the state to people under 21 if they are active-duty military or were 19 by December 31, 2019.
Turner said this related directly to a category Arkansas failed in, flavored tobacco products.
“Youth tend to follow the flavors. That makes it easier to start e-cigarette[s], other tobacco product[s], and definitely easier to continue,” She added.
The report suggests that Arkansas set goals to have Medicaid continue to cover smoking cessation services, allocate over $14 million of state funding towards the state tobacco prevention and cessation program, and repeal state preemption of local tobacco control authority.
When questioned about medical and recreational marijuana, Turner only said, “The American Lung Association believes that all smoke-free workplace laws should also apply to smoking or vaping of marijuana, eliminating its use in public places and workplaces.”