Nearly One in Four Illinois High School Students Use Tobacco, Report Warns | national news

(The Center Square) – A new study says Illinois could do more to reduce tobacco use across the state.

The American Lung Association’s annual “State of Tobacco Control” report tracks the efforts of federal and state governments across the country on steps taken to eliminate tobacco use and enact control laws and policies. anti tobacco.

Illinois received mixed grades in five different categories, but raised its grade from a “D” to a “C” when it comes to access to withdrawal services.

“It’s largely because Illinois now has a law in place that requires Medicaid to cover all three forms of smoking cessation counseling, telephone, group, and individual,” said Kristina Hamilton, director of the advocacy for the American Lung Association in Illinois and Iowa. “It’s important because smoking rates among low-income people are nearly double the general population of Illinois,” Hamilton said. “This will hopefully help reduce smoking rates among low-income people.”

The report notes that Illinois spends about $12 million in total funding for state tobacco control programs, a far cry from the $136 million that some experts say should be the goal.

“We’re still only at 9% of what the CDC recommends spending on tobacco prevention and control,” Hamilton said. “We would like the General Assembly to increase this budget in the future.”

The ALA remains very concerned that nearly 23% of Illinois high school students use some form of tobacco, largely due to e-cigarettes, particularly flavored e-cigarettes.

“We strongly advocate that municipalities adopt policies to end the sale of flavored tobacco products that include menthol cigarettes and flavored cigarettes because they are so popular with young people,” Hamilton said. “It really undoes a lot of the impactful work the tobacco control community has done over the past two decades.”

Among the report’s recommendations, the American Lung Association calls on Illinois lawmakers to act to ensure tax parity between tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigarettes.

“We would like to see other tobacco products taxed at the same rate as cigarettes,” Hamilton said. “For price-sensitive tobacco product consumers, if you increase taxes, you see a decline in the rates of use of constructed tobacco products.”

The ALA also continues to advocate for states to eliminate the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

Illinois gets high marks for its air quality, thanks in large part to the now nearly 15-year-old Smoke-Free Illinois Act, which bans smoking in virtually all public places and workspaces .

“We know it saved lives and prevented another generation from being addicted to certain tobacco products,” Hamilton said.

New to Illinois is the Preventing Youth Vaping Act, which went into effect earlier this year. The law prohibits companies from marketing e-cigarettes to minors, prohibits misleading e-cigarette advertising, and gives the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and law enforcement the criminal and civil authority to hold violators responsible.

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