New Report Reveals Massachusetts Tobacco-control Successes over Past 20 Years

BOSTON — The American Lung Assoc. released its 20th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, revealing significant progress in the work to end tobacco use, while products like e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, create concern about losing another generation to nicotine addiction. The report finds that Massachusetts earned largely good grades on policies to reduce and prevent tobacco use but highlights one area that needs improvement: funding for tobacco-cessation and prevention programs.

The 2022 “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policymakers on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use, the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. The report recommends proven-effective tobacco-control laws and policies to save lives. The report reveals that the country has made substantial progress in advancing tobacco-control policies over the past 20 years, including comprehensive smoke-free laws in more states, increased tobacco taxes across the nation, and more Americans with access to treatments to help them quit smoking through state Medicaid programs.

In Massachusetts over the last 20 years, lawmakers have made significant strides to reduce tobacco use, including a robust clean indoor air act that protects people from secondhand smoke, as well as the first law to remove all flavored tobacco products, including menthol, from the market. However, there is more work to be done. The high-school tobacco-use rate is a striking 37%. Today, smoking costs the state more than $4 billion and the lives of more than 9,000 Massachusetts residents annually. (This data was collected before the menthol-flavored products were removed from shelves.)

“While we have seen considerable progress in Massachusetts, tobacco use remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 28,170 lives each year,” said Trevor Summerfield, director of advocacy for the American Lung Assoc. in Massachusetts. “If we want to continue our progress and leadership on tobacco-control policy, we must do more to prevent youth from initiating tobacco use, help those who want to quit, and address the unequal burden of tobacco use in communities experiencing health disparities.”