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Tobacco Industry Continues to Spend Billions While Public Health Shortchanged
Follow the trail of money misused by policymakers and strategically invested by Big Tobacco in the American Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control" report
to discover how the leading cause of preventable death is often entangled in a financial web of neglect and deceit.
The Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control" report tracks annual progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.
"We are faced with a deep-pocketed, ever-evolving tobacco industry that's determined to maintain its market share at the expense of our kids and current
smokers," said Paul G. Billings, American Lung Association Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Education. "State and federal policymakers must battle a changing Big Tobacco and step up to fund programs and enact policies proven to reduce tobacco use."
The federal government's progress on tobacco control over the past several years nearly ground to a halt. Most notably, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to exercise its oversight authority allowing for the proliferation of a new generation of tobacco products aimed at hooking youth smokers.
"By not having a level playing field with tobacco taxes, we're seeing market shifts from cigarettes to lesser taxed and subsequently more affordable tobacco products. This means candy flavored cigars and a new wave of smokeless products are enticing new, young customers to become addicted to nicotine," continued Billings.
According to preliminary data from a report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, called "Big Tobacco Wins Tax Battles," the tobacco industry was also hard at work making campaign contributions to candidates for political office and bankrolling efforts aimed at defeating ballot initiatives. Candidates for state office during the 2011-2012 election cycle accepted $53.4 million and the industry spent a whopping $46 million to defeat Proposition 29, which would have increased California's cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack. In addition, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the tobacco industry contributed over $3.7 million to candidates for federal office.
"It's no wonder we're losing ground in the fight to end tobacco-caused death and disease," stated Billings.
"Elected officials are getting cozy with Big
American Lung Association
Smoking thins vital part of brain
- Years ago, children were warned that smoking could stunt their growth, but a major study shows new evidence that long-term smoking could cause thinning of the brain's cortex. The cortex is the outer layer of the brain in which critical cognitive functions such as memory, language and perception take place.
The findings also suggest that stopping smoking helps to restore at least part of the cortex's thickness.
Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University and the University of Edinburgh.
1.8 million smokers likely to die from their habit
- "While Australia is a world leader in tobacco control, the battle to reduce the public health consequences of tobacco use is far from over," Laureate Professor Alan Lopez, Director, of the Global Burden of Disease Group, University of Melbourne said.
"Our findings revealed that up to two in every three who smoke can be expected to die from their habit if they don't
quit. Their risk of dropping dead at any age is three times that of non-smokers," he said.
"It is a huge wake-up call for Australia. We know smoking is the cause of a wide range of diseases but we now have
direct evidence from Australia that shows just how hazardous it is. Even ten cigarettes a day will double your risk of dying prematurely. Smokers greatly underestimate or do not understand the seriousness of these risks," said Professor Emily Banks, Scientific Director of the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study.
Next: Cancer Physicians Testified For Tobacco Companies