Iowa’s latest report card from the American Lung Association on tobacco control policies is all over the board — with one A grade, one C and two F’s. Kerry Wise, spokeswoman for the agency’s Iowa chapter, says one of the failing grades the state received was for how much money Iowa spends — or doesn’t spend — on tobacco use prevention.
“The ‘F’ for spending is because we are far below the CDC recommendation of spending,” Wise says. “The tobacco control budget is about 11-million. The CDC recommends that we have, on average, about 37-million spent in Iowa to combat the tobacco companies’ influence here.”
Iowa also flunked the cessation coverage category. Wise says the state Medicaid program offers limited reimbursement and coverage of some elements, while many other states provide full coverage of things like medications and counseling, with no barriers. She says Iowa got a C grade, or just average, for the level of its tobacco tax.
“Iowa’s cigarette tax is $1.36 and that moved up a dollar a pack several years ago from just 36-cents,” Wise says. “We want to see a tax that insures youth are deterred from using cigarettes. We know that the higher the tax, the lower the use rate for cigarettes, so that’s why the tobacco tax is so important.” She says some states have a three-dollar-per-pack tax, while others are as low as 17-cents. Iowa’s only A on the report card was in the category of smokefree air.
“When the Smokefree Air Act was passed on July 1st, 2008, we protected 99.9% of Iowans who are in the workplace,” Wise says. “The main exemption is casinos. That is something that, in the future, we would like to see included as well.” Wise says tobacco-related illness remains the number-one preventable cause of death in the U.S. and is responsible for more than 44-hundred deaths in Iowa every year. She says six states received all F’s — Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia — and no state earned straight A’s. To see the full report on Iowa and all states, visit: “www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org“.