GA, AL earn poor grades for preventing, reducing tobacco use

Published: Jan. 26, 2017 at 4:43 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2017 at 11:17 PM EST
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(WTVM) - Smoking kills more than 480,000 people a year in this country, yet, the American Lung Association says it's the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S.

So what can be done to reduce the number of people dying from smoking?

The American Lung Association's latest tobacco report says many states failed to do enough in 2016 to save lives. The report grades each state on how it's preventing and reducing tobacco use and shows a large number of states earned poor grades.

The American Lung Association's annual "State of Tobacco Control" Report grades states on what they're doing to reduce tobacco use and prevent deaths.

There are five categories: funding tobacco prevention programs, protecting people from secondhand smoke in public and workplaces, high enough tobacco taxes to prevent and reduce use, access to non-smoking services and increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21.Georgia earned an F in all categories except smoke-free air laws which got a C. Alabama earned an F in all the categories except tobacco 21 laws which it earned a D.

So what needs to be done? The American Lung Association says a start would be both states putting more money into prevention programs.Secondly, increase the tax on tobacco products. The average cigarette tax is $1.65. In Alabama, it's about 67 cents per pack of 20. Georgia is 37 cents per pack of 20. Lastly, ensure smokers have help to quit.

Those are tall tasks for both states but the American Lung Associations says it's up to state legislatures to pass proven-effective policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives.

It's not just adults we have to worry about.

According to the American Lung Association, each day close to 2,500 kids under 18 try their first cigarette and about 400 kids become new, regular smokers.

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