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ALA: Much More Must Be Done to Lower Smoking Rates

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- State inaction and tobacco industry tactics are slowing tobacco control efforts in the United States, a new report from the American Lung Association (ALA) finds.

According to the ALA report issued Wednesday, states spent $485.5 million on programs aimed at curbing tobacco use in 2013, a rise from $462.5 million in 2012. However, only two states -- Alaska and North Dakota -- had levels of funding on these programs that matched levels recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 40 states and the District of Columbia failed to fund their tobacco prevention programs at even half of the CDC level.

Many Americans also lack access to therapies that experts know can help smokers quit. Only two states provide Medicaid enrollees with coverage for all seven U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved anti-smoking medications and three forms of counseling, and only four states do so for state employees. On the other hand, the ALA said that tobacco companies are getting around current anti-smoking efforts by aggressively marketing other tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco (chewing and dipping tobacco, snuff) and cigars. They are also aggressively promoting electronic cigarettes.

"There is no federal oversight of these products, and the e-cigarette industry is using celebrity spokespeople to glamorize its products, making unproven health claims, encouraging smokers to switch instead of quit, and creating candy- and fruit-flavored products to attract youth," the ALA said in the statement.

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