State of Tobacco Control Report – 2016
The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2016” sounds the alarm about the troubling increase of youth tobacco use in our nation. While significant progress has been made in reducing youth cigarette smoking—an almost 42 percent decline in high school smoking rates since 2011—youth use of other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and hookah, is skyrocketing. This report finds that the significant increase in the use of some tobacco products threatens to undermine the United States’ overall progress in the fight against tobacco-caused death and disease.
Did Kansas make the grade?
Kansas celebrated a win for tobacco control at the end of a record-breaking legislative session, securing a 50 cent increase in the cigarette tax effective July 1, 2015. The Lung Association and other public health advocates had originally lobbied for a $1.50 per pack increase, which was included in Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposed state budget. Unfortunately, the success in raising the tobacco tax did not translate into increased funding for tobacco control and prevention. While the coalition advocated for an increase, the need to fill a budget hole was too great. Funding remains at a woeful $946,671. The increased tax did not include a tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes.
Kansas also celebrated its fifth year of the Kansas Indoor Clean Air Ordinance in July of 2015. Despite efforts to weaken this law over the past five years, tobacco advocates have been able to help keep this law intact. However, exemptions to this law, including casinos, private clubs, and smoke shops, still exist, and the law currently does not prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in public buildings, an initiative that is taking a foothold in many communities around Kansas. Also, municipalities such as Wichita are receiving an influx of reports of local establishments that are either openly violating the state law. This is due to lack of enforcement because the City of Wichita has not formerly adopted the state law, giving law enforcement full authority over violators.
Kansas also ranked low in Access to Cessation Services. Despite the successful partnership between the Kansas Tobacco Quitline and physicians to increase cessation counseling and recommending over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies and prescription cessation medications, access remains low due to insufficient coverage by insurance. The State employee health plan has comprehensive coverage for counseling and medications, but Medicaid only covers counseling for pregnant women. Medicaid does cover medications, but no insurance plans in Kansas are mandated to cover the cost of nicotine replacement therapy. Offering the combination of counseling with a variety of FDA-approved cessation aids in health plans is highly recommended for increasing the success of cessation.
See the state overview HERE.
TFW still has a lot of work to do, both locally and on a statewide level. Our current initiatives include reducing the impact of local tobacco advertising, which targets youth, people of low income, minorities, and other at-risk populations, such as the LGBT community. TFW has also continued to work on the Smoke-Free Housing Initiative.
TFW will soon be mobilizing community members to:
- Address local smoking ban enforcement
- Update the local Youth Access Ordinance to include regulation of electronic cigarette sales
- A tobacco-free parks initiative.
This work does not get done without community members. Help TFW take action now!