HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania gets another failing grade from the American Lung Association, but this grade was a slight improvement.
“There are so many connections and issues regarding tobacco use and the involvement of these products,” said Pam Miller, a tobacco treatment specialist for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
According to the State of Tobacco Control Report, Pennsylvania has some of the weakest policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use.
Get traffic alerts from the abc27 mobile app for the latest local delays and road closures
“It is critical that we implement policies and at the federal and the state level to really ensure that tobacco use is addressed and eliminated,” said Jennifer Folkenroth, national senior director for the American Lung Association.
In this year’s report, Pennsylvania was graded in five areas that have proven to save lives. Overall, it got an “F” grade in funding for state tobacco prevention programs, level of state tobacco taxes, and ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products.
The Commonwealth got a “D” grade for its limited access to services to help people quit tobacco and the strength of smoke-free workplace laws.
“This really comes down to state and federal law and what our lawmakers could be doing to help prevent initiation of tobacco use among our future generations as well as providing programs to really support individuals in successfully breaking free from nicotine addiction,” said Folkenroth.
According to the American Lung Association, 26.7 % of high school students use tobacco products including vaping and e-cigarettes.
About two in five children are exposed to secondhand smoke, resulting in sudden infant death syndrome, lung problems, ear infections, and asthma attacks.
Stay up to date on the latest from abc27 News on-air and on the go with the free abc27 Mobile app.
“It really goes to show that tobacco use not only affects the person that is using it but everyone around them,” said Miller.
To receive a better grade, the American Lung Association says officials need to increase taxes to make tobacco less affordable, increase state funding for tobacco-use prevention programs, and improve Pennsylvania’s smoke-free laws.