American Lung Association: Connecticut should increase funding for tobacco control programs

A new report from the American Lung Association shows Connecticut does not score high when it comes to trying to eliminate tobacco use and enacting tobacco control laws and policies.
For the eighth straight year, the State of Tobacco Control report gave the state two failing grades, one for tobacco prevention and cessation funding and an another for flavored tobacco products.
More than 40 states received failing grades in these categories.
Officials say they have increase its spending on tobacco prevention.
"We're almost at $400 million every year that comes into the state, so we're talking about $12 million being dedicated to helping people quit and preventing people from using these deadly products," says Ruth Canovi, the Connecticut director of public policy for the American Lung Association.
The report calls for an increase in state funding for tobacco control programs.
While the new state budget allocates $12 million annually for that, it's still less than half of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations.
"We get an 'F' grade for this because we spend less than 50% of what the CDC recommends," says Canovi.
The report additionally calls for a statewide ban on flavored tobacco products, which no municipality has done.
"We care about people's health, and we know that flavors are a huge incentive for young people, especially, to pick up these products," says Canovi. "I've had some conversations with some municipalities, some lawmakers. I'm not sure the appetite is there this year, but we know states that have done this have found some promising practices and good results."
Connecticut did receive a passing grade, a B, for its cigarette tax, one of the three highest in the country.
The tax has helped to lower the state's smoking rate.
"We've seen a decrease in traditional combustible cigarette use, because those taxes are high. People are price-sensitive, and it does make a difference," says Canovi.