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American Lung Association of Virginia Comments - Donna Reynolds, 11/13/00 10:19AM

The American Lung Association of Virginia is a nonprofit voluntary health

agency serving the citizens of Virginia for more than ninety years dedicated

to preventing lung disease and promoting lung health. The association has a

long history in Virginia working to reduce the use of tobacco in Virginia

and improving the quality of our indoor air to protect citizens from

secondhand smoke exposure.

In 1998, 3,762 Virginians died from lung cancer making lung cancer the

leading cause of death from a lung disease in the state. Lung cancer is a

largely preventable cancer marked by an uncontrolled growth of abnormal

cells in the lung that destroy healthy tissue. Smoking is the number one

cause of lung cancer and more than 80% of all lung cancers are

smoking-related.

Based on our experience working to implement tobacco control and clean

indoor air initiatives in Virginia, the association would like to respond to

the Commission's inquiries and issues by offering the following statements:

Tobacco Prevention and Education programs work and they should be fully

funded in Virginia. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC) estimates the annual cost of an effective, comprehensive tobacco

prevention program for the state of Virginia to be between $38.9 million and

$106.9 million (approximate per capita expenditure of $5.77 to $15.87).

Virginia currently allocates per capita funding of $1.95 for tobacco

prevention, which is 33.7% of the CDC's minimum recommendation.

Significant reductions in the prevalence of adult and youth tobacco use

should be the primary goals of the Commission. The American Lung

Association of Virginia has a number of tobacco prevention and clean indoor

air programs that can help meet these goals including cessation programs for

adults and a newly-introduced, gender-based youth cessation program.

Concerted efforts need to be directed toward the increased number of young

adult smokers in Virginia. These young adults were the children targeted by

some of the most aggressive marketing tactics by the tobacco industry.

Virginia should adopt effective tobacco prevention control policies that

will have a great impact on communities including raising the tobacco excise

tax (Virginia has the lowest excise tax in the United States, 2.5 cents) and

adopting clean indoor air policies. Youth are particularly sensitive to the

price of cigarettes; therefore, an increase in the price of cigarettes will

normally result in a decrease in youth tobacco use. Clean indoor air

policies which restrict smoking in public places will help smokers learn how

to cope with not smoking. This will encourage them to make the decision to

quit smoking.

The Commission provides an opportunity to develop a program to provide

economic transition assistance for tobacco farmers and tobacco-related

communities.

The Commission should support adequately funded, full, unfettered, Food

and Drug Administration regulatory authority over the manufacture, sale,

distribution, labeling, marketing and promotion of tobacco.

The American Lung Association of Virginia is committed to achieving

significant reductions in the prevalence of adult and youth tobacco use in

Virginia. We appreciate the opportunity to provide guidance and support on

these serious public health issues.

Sincerely yours,

 

Catherine G. Hamm               Ronald Karpick, MD

Executive Director                 Government Relations Chair