Editorial: The State must redouble its efforts to fight tobacco addiction | Opinion

Massachusetts has done a great job over the past two years to reduce smoking prevalence. But as a new report from the American Lung Association clearly shows, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

First, the good news. The association credited the state for a “robust” indoor air quality law and for passing the nation’s first law to remove all flavored tobacco products, including menthol, from the market. Granted, the sight of a smoker is rarer than it has ever been in the state’s recent history.

But there’s also growing evidence that a new wave of smokers is beginning to emerge from the hallways and bathrooms of local high schools. And the state must redouble its investment in the health of its adolescent population.

“The smoking rate in high schools is an incredible 37%,” the association notes in its report. Much of this is related to the use of e-cigarettes.

The report’s authors note – rightly – that the state should do more to help teens avoid what could be a lifelong addiction to tobacco products.

“While we have seen tremendous progress in Massachusetts, smoking remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, claiming approximately 28,170 lives each year,” said Trevor Summerfield, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Massachusetts.

“If we are to continue our progress and leadership on tobacco control policy, we must do more to prevent young people from starting to smoke, support those who want to quit, and tackle the unequal burden of tobacco use in communities. experiencing health disparities. »

Proponents say the state should spend more on prevention and smoking cessation programs.

“Despite receiving more than $686 million in tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Massachusetts is funding tobacco control efforts at only 11% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Summerfield said.

The money, he said, “should be used to support the health of our communities, and to prevent smoking and help people quit smoking, and not switch to e-cigarettes. These programs are also essential to help end tobacco-related health disparities.”

It’s time for lawmakers to put the money where it’s needed most.

Given the state’s success in controlling tobacco use over the past 20 years, it would be unconscionable to let the ever-growing vaping industry entrap a whole new generation of smokers.

About Margaret Shaw

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