For every two packs of cigarettes sold in New York, at least one has been illegally smuggled into the state. That’s according to research by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which also reports that cigarette smuggling cost states an estimated $5.5 billion in lost revenue in 2012. “The significance of the problem cannot be overstated in high-tax states,” said Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Mackinac Center.

The Associated Press reports that companies who make well-known products marketed toward children are taking on the e-cigarette world and protecting their brand names.

Lawyers for General Mills, the Girl Scouts of the USA and Tootsie Roll Industries are among those who have issued letters demanding that names like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Thin Mint and Tootsie Roll may not be used for the liquid...

While the federal government and state legislatures are debating how much control to exercise over the new e-cigarette market, poison control centers across the nation are reporting an increase in calls related to the relatively new product. The primary source of concern is the nicotine-based liquid refill for e-cigarettes and accidental access by young children.

Nationally, poison control centers...

This week the Colorado and Utah legislatures took the first step toward passing bills to raise the smoking age to 21. Each bill passed its first committee hurdle to final adoption.

Other states with similar pending legislation this year are Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey.  Maryland took up the measure already but rejected it. In Utah the smoking age is already 19, as it is in Alabama, Alaska and New Jersey. Last year New York City raised the smoking age to 21 as did Hawaii...

The national average of underage tobacco sales in 2012 was about 9 percent according to a U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) survey. Studying and targeting youth is important because most smokers start when they are young. Nearly 88 percent of smokers first started when they were younger than 18 years old and 99 percent first started smoking by age 26.

Gov. Mary Fallin said in her State of the State address delivered Feb. 4 that both her parents died due to smoking-related illnesses, as do almost 6,000 Oklahomans each year. She called for restoring local control to cities and towns regarding tobacco use in public places.

Despite the accumulation of scientific evidence and years of public education campaigns around the dangers of tobacco use, it is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States according to the CDC. One in every five deaths is related to cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke – 443,000 lives a year. The cost is staggering – reaching nearly $100 billion to treat smoking caused diseases.

The percent of adults who reported smoking in 2011 varied from a low of 11.8 percent in Utah to a high of 29 percent in Kentucky. Along with Kentucky, more than one in four  adults smoke in eight other states – Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia. Nationally, 18.1 percent of adults report smoking. Youth smoking rates are lower – 13.1 nationally – with just six states posting rates of 20 percent or higher.

Voters in California turned back an effort to add $1 to the cost of a pack of cigarettes. The rate increase would have been the first one in California since 1998. Without the increase, California’s 87 cent tax remains well below the current national average of $1.46 per pack.

Revenues from the tax, Proposition 29 on California’s June 5 ballot, would have supported medical research on tobacco related diseases and programs to prevent and control tobacco use. First year collections were estimated at $735 million.

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Twenty four states and the District of Columbia were given an A by the American Lung Association last week because they had comprehensive smokefree air laws. On the other hand, twelve states received a failing grade in the "State of Tobacco Control: 2012" report. The remainder of the states scored somewhere between an A and a F.

This week we learned about the President’s success in his struggle to quit smoking. One in five American adults either smoke or use some form of tobacco and although many try to quit, less than 10 percent are successful due to a lack of support. Tomorrow, ActionToQuit’s free webinar describes how hospitals can support smokers who want to quit, by screening all patients for tobacco use and providing treatment. ActiontoQuit urges all sectors – employers, insurers, health care providers, quitlines and policymakers – to work together to help tobacco users get access to all the treatments that can help them quit, and has produced a series of webinars and podcasts. See also: CSG’s Quitting Tobacco: Save Lives, Save Money in Medicaid and State Employee Plans

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