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American Lung Association Report Gives Illinois Mixed Grades
Date:1/10/2008

Cites Smoke Free Illinois as Victory for Public Health; Progress Needed in Other Key Areas

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Jan. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Illinois scored one very high and three very low grades in tobacco control policies from the American Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control 2007 report, which highlighted significant progress in smoke free air and outlined progress to be made in tobacco prevention and control spending, cigarette tax and youth access. Illinois received the following grades:

-- Smoke free air: A

-- Cigarette tax: D (Higher cigarette taxes reduce the number of kids who smoke and increase the number of adults who quit. Studies show that for every 10 percent increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes, there is a seven percent decline in youth consumption.)

-- Youth access: D (Reflects enactment and enforcement of policies that restrict the sale and distribution of tobacco products to minors.)

-- Tobacco prevention and control spending: F (Grading is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's [CDC] 2007 updated Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs, which recommended that Illinois apply $64.9 million per year on tobacco control and prevention spending. More than 16,900 people in Illinois die each year from diseases caused by cigarette smoking. CDC estimates that if all states funded their tobacco control programs at the recommended level of investment for five years, it would result in five million fewer smokers nationally.)

"We began 2008 celebrating a huge victory for the health of Illinois workers with the comprehensive Smoke Free Illinois law which became effective January 1," said Kathy Drea, Director of Public Policy, American Lung Association of Illinois and Greater Chicago.

Smoke free Air Laws Help Prompt Adults to Quit Smoking

One of the many benefits of comprehensive smoke free air laws is that they increase the number of people who quit and discourage kids from starting to smoke. In fact, calls during the last six weeks to the Illinois Tobacco QuitLine, through the American Lung Association (ALA) of Illinois and Greater Chicago's partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Health, have doubled over the same time last year. Attendance at ALA's Freedom from Smoking(R) classes is also twice that of last year.

"Any Illinois resident who wants to quit smoking can call the QuitLine at 1-866-QUIT YES (1-866-784-8937) and speak to registered nurses or registered respiratory therapists who will customize a free cessation program and provide ongoing support," said Lynda Preckwinkle, Director, QuitLine, American Lung Association of Illinois and Greater Chicago. People who are thinking about quitting may also access information via the Website at http://www.quityes.org.

"While Smoke Free Illinois will help encourage people to quit smoking, there's still work to be done to improve lung health," said Drea. "The American Lung Association of Illinois and Greater Chicago will continue its work to increase the state cigarette tax, pass a bill to license tobacco retailers in Illinois (which is one of the most effective ways to reduce youth access to tobacco products) and work to increase funding for statewide tobacco control efforts."

Federal Tobacco Prevention Issues and Tobacco Industry Spending

In addition to grading each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the annual report card grades federal tobacco control efforts, including: cigarette tax, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of tobacco products, cessation policies and ratification of the international tobacco control treaty.

Grades for federal issues -- FDA regulation of tobacco products, cigarette tax, cession policies, and the international tobacco control treaty -- still score only Ds and Fs. But Congress is poised to pass the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to give the FDA oversight over tobacco products - legislation that will curb the marketing of cigarettes to children and teens.

Data released in 2007 detailed the tobacco industry's spending, including approximately $36 million a day ($13.1 billion annually) in marketing, in addition to $1.7 million in direct contributions to federal candidates and $96 million to state candidates, committees and ballot measure campaigns during the 2005 and 2006 election cycle. R.J. Reynolds violated the spirit of an agreement with state Attorneys General prohibiting marketing to youth by introducing a new line of flavored cigarettes. Data shows that smokers aged 17 to 19 favor these products.

During 2007, two major public health reports -- from the President's Cancer Panel and the Institute of Medicine -- heralded the need for the federal and state governments to take urgent action to reduce America's tobacco epidemic.

For more information and to view the full State of Tobacco Control 2007 report, visit http://www.lungil.org.


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SOURCE American Lung Association of Illinois & Greater Chicago
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