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40 States Get an 'F' in Tobacco Prevention From New Report Card
Date:1/20/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- A new report card gives the U.S. government relatively high marks for advances in treating people with tobacco-related illnesses, but gives low or failing grades to most states as their anti-smoking programs falter.

The report, from the American Lung Association, finds most states sorely lacking in efforts to get people to stop smoking or help them quit.

"We all can see that public sentiment is turning against smoking," Charles D. Connor, president of the Association, said during a press conference Wednesday.

"However, it's a grave mistake to assume that the shift in public thinking about tobacco means that the public health crisis has ended. It hasn't," he said.

Each year in the United States, 443,000 people die from illnesses directly related to tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. This makes tobacco the number one cause of preventable deaths, Connor said.

Moreover, tobacco-related illness saps the country of more than $193 billion in health-care costs and lost productivity each year, he added.

"The tobacco companies, meanwhile, aren't relenting in their campaigns of deception," Connor said. "The industry found new ways in 2010 to market it products and target kids."

Connor praised the federal government's efforts to dissuade new smokers and help current smokers quit.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration began overseeing tobacco products in 2009. So far, the agency has moved to ban the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to minors, to ban candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes, to prohibit tobacco industry sponsorship of sports and entertainment events, to take enforcement action against electronic cigarette markers, and to require larger health warnings on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco labels.

In addition, the new health care reform law expands programs to help people quit smoking. Mo
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