Micki Sandquist, Executive of the American Lung Association in Iowa, believes there are a number of things the state could do that would ultimately reduce death and disease tied to cigarettes and similar products.
“Number one is to increase our funding for the Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control — getting it back to when we had over $12 million to work with our programming in Iowa when we saw a reduction in the use of tobacco products,” Sandquist said.
In 2008, the Iowa Department of Health’s Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control had a budget of $12.29 million.In fiscal year 2015, the division’s budget was just over $5.5 million.
Sandquist is also calling for an increase of the tax placed on tobacco products. “We know that is another way and a best practice to reduce the use of tobacco products,” Sandquist said. Iowa’s current tax on cigarettes is $1.36 per pack. The American Lung Association in Iowa is lobbying for a one buck increase to $2.36 per pack.
The 14th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report does give Iowa an “A” grade in the category of “Smokefree Air,” but Sandquist says there’s room for improvement there too.
“We still have that loophole to close with making all public places smoke free,” Sandquist said.