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
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
• The Commission provides an opportunity to develop a program to provide
economic transition assistance for tobacco farmers and tobacco-related
• 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.
Catherine G. Hamm Ronald Karpick, MD
Executive Director Government Relations Chair