American Lung Association report card gives Illinois an ‘A’ for smoke-free air, ‘D’ for cigarette tax

From press release

CHICAGO—The American Lung Association in Greater Chicago on Jan. 20 released their 2010 State of Tobacco Control Report on key tobacco control policies and Illinois’ effectiveness at adequately protecting citizens from the enormous burden caused by tobacco use. Illinois earned an “F” for tobacco prevention and control spending, an “F” for coverage of cessation treatments, an “A” for smoke-free air laws and a “D” for cigarette tax rates.

“Illinois is one of 24 states and the District of Columbia to receive an ‘A’ for smoke-free air,” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago. “We’re proud to lead the nation on this initiative, but there are, however, attempts to weaken Illinois’ Smoke Free Air Act that would compromise the health of Illinois citizens.”

House Bill 171 is one such example of a threat to the health of casino workers in Illinois. The bill seeks to exempt casinos from the Smoke Free Illinois Act by allowing designated smoking rooms in gaming facilities. Should this bill pass, it sets precedence for other possible exemptions including restaurants and bars.

“There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke,” continues Wimmer. “Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, or ventilating buildings cannot and does not eliminate exposure to deadly secondhand smoke.”

Increasing the cigarette tax is another area on which the report focuses. Illinois received a “D” on their report card and currently ranks 32nd in the nation for their $.98 per pack tax. Raising Illinois’ cigarette tax by $1 would create $375 million in new state revenue and save lives by preventing 77.600 Illinois kids from becoming smokers and encourage 59,400 Illinois adult smokers to quit.

On a positive note, the State of Illinois has recognized the importance of funding tobacco cessation treatments and recently increased their funding to the Illinois Tobacco Quitline (1-866-QUIT-YES) by 100 percent. For every dollar spent in the state of Illinois on smoking cessation, $1.29 is returned in the form of decreased medical costs, increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.

The American Lung Association report shows vital action on some fronts in the fight against tobacco, yet it also underscores tobacco’s grim national toll. Each year, 443,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses and secondhand smoke exposure, making tobacco the leading cause of preventable death. It is responsible for an estimated 16,600 deaths in Illinois. In addition, it costs the state’s economy $8,317,453,000 annually in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

State grades

Eight states–Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia–received all “F’s” and no state earned straight “A’s” in State of Tobacco Control 2010.

Federal grades

The federal government received all passing grades. It drew a “B” for FDA regulation of tobacco products; a “C” for cessation coverage provided under four major federal health care programs; a “D” for the federal cigarette tax; and a “D” for failure to ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty.

About the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit To learn more about the State of Tobacco Control Report, visit

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