In CA: Smoke Got In Our Eyes
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The state’s tobacco tax of 87 cents per pack ranks 32nd in the nation, and makes it one of only four states in the U.S. that has not raised its levy in more than a decade.
California was faulted for its scattershot efforts to provide help to smokers trying to quit, in particular its lack of any mandate that private insurers cover smoking cessation efforts.
The state also earned a failing grade for its tobacco prevention and control funding. In fiscal 2010, California is slated to spend nearly $79 million on prevention programs, less than one-fifth what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say is needed, according to the report. Of course, the tobacco industry spends more than that in three days marketing its products around the U.S., running up a $34 million tab every day on advertising and other promotional efforts.
State lawmakers failed to make much headway during the past year, the report noted, with the most notable defeat was a failed attempt to nearly double the tobacco tax by raising it to $1.50 a pack. Philip Morris spent more than $842,000 to lobby on the legislation and other tobacco-related bills last spring, eclipsing its past records for spending.
On one front California does remain a leader – ensuring a smoke-free environment. The state earned an A grade from the Lung Assn. for its restrictions on smoking in most public buildings.