Ohio receives failing grade for tobacco prevention
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 22:01
The American Lung Association has again ranked Ohio as one of the worst states in the country for tobacco use. The Association gave Ohio several failing grades in its recently released 2010 State Tobacco Control, according to Shelly Kiser, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio.
In 2010, Ohio was the sixth worst state in tobacco use in the country. The 2011 statistics showed 25.2 percent of Ohio residents smoke, compared to the 20 percent national rate, Kiser said.
The best ranked states have made the largest investment in tobacco prevention and have the highest tobacco tax rates, while the worst ranked states, such as Ohio and Kentucky have not made those efforts, Kiser said.
The American Lung Association determines yearly smoking grades by assessing state cigarette tax, funding on tobacco prevention and cessation, the existence of the Smoke-Free Air laws and state smoking cessation programs, according to Kiser.
The country’s highest cigarette tax, around $4, earns an A, and the lowest, around 40 cents, receives an F. The average cigarette tax is $1.45, according to Kiser.
Kiser said Ohio’s 1.25 percent tax is below the halfway point, which earns a D.
According to Kiser, Ohio’s low cigarette tax is the worst problem with tobacco in the state.
“Other states have raised their taxes which has been an effective method to reduce smoking rates,” Kiser said. “Ohio has failed to increase it.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sets a recommended spending level for funding tobacco prevention and cessation, according to Kiser.
“If you get a certain percentage, you get a certain grade,” Kiser said. “So we’re at less than 50 percent, which is an F.”
Senior Katie Davis, who will pursue a doctorate in nutrition, said she believes a reduction in smoking rates must start at the college level.
“It’s important to emphasize the awareness and reduction of tobacco use at Miami [University] because college students experience stress and peer-pressure that could lead to tobacco use,” Davis said. “And those bad habits formed now could potentially last a lifetime and cause future tobacco-related illnesses.”
The Smoke-Free Air Law is another way states are graded; points are awarded for areas that are smoke-free, according to Kiser.
“Since 2006, we’ve had that strong A with Smoke-Free Workplace laws,” Kiser said. “It led to a reduction in smoking rate because it changes social norms so you can’t smoke in work places, and if you see people not smoking, you’re encouraged to stop smoking.”
Points are also awarded if the state covers medications for tobacco prevention and cessation. Kiser said within the past few years Ohio was improving faster than the rest of the country because $46 million was invested in the statewide tobacco prevention and cessation program due to funding from the Master Settlement agreement.
The agreement was a state foundation that used the money for media campaigns, grants and other things in line with what the CDC recommended for tobacco prevention and cessation, according to Kiser.
“[The] cessation grade can easily be made better by adding cessation counseling to Medicaid,” Kiser said. “In our Medicaid population, 42 percent is smoking and those Medicaid costs of tobacco related illnesses come right out of the state budget and from taxpayers.”
Sophomore Sam Walter said she is not surprised by Ohio’s failing grade because of personal experiences.
“My grandmother was a chain smoker and the consequences have deterred me from tobacco,” Walter said. “And because Miami is a smoke-free campus, I’m shocked by the amount of students who smoke outside King Library.”