New Report Highlights Need for Smoke-free Policies in Tennessee

Recently, the Truth Initiative released the Tobacco Nation: the Deadly State of Smoking Disparity in the U.S. to raise awareness of tobacco-related disparities. The report identifies twelve neighboring states from the upper Midwest to the South, where smoking prevalence exceeds the national average. Those states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.

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Report Highlights

  • On average, individuals living in Tobacco Nation earn nearly 21 percent less per year than the average resident within the rest of the U.S.
  • Not only do Tobacco Nation's youth and adults smoke at higher rates, their residents also smoke many more cigarettes per capita annually than those in the rest of the U.S. 
  • On average, Tobacco Nation residents live shorter lives and face a higher risk of dying than other Americans. 
  • As a whole, Tobacco Nation fares poorly in mental and physical markers of well-being, compared to the rest of the nation. 
  • The average excise tax is significantly lower in Tobacco Nation (98-cents) than in the rest of the U.S. ($1.89).
  • Only two states in Tobacco Nation (Michigan and Ohio) have laws forbidding smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars. 

What Can We Do in Tennessee?

According to the United Health Foundation, Tennessee ranks 47th in smoking prevalence with 24.2% of adults smoking. These stats contribute to the state being part of Tobacco Nation. 

Passing policies that create more smoke-free workplaces and public places is an important way to fight tobacco. Yet, Tennessee law prevents local governments from passing these laws. That's why the American Heart Association supports giving the ability for local communities to decide for themselves if and how to act on tobacco use policies. This would empower all Tennessee communities to make decisions themselves without the state preventing them. No longer would communities have to lobby the state legislature just to remove tobacco from public places. Whether it’s a temporary ban on tobacco use during special events, or creating smoke-free neighborhoods, your community would be allowed to have those conversations and decide what is best for their situation.

We hope you'll support our Local Option policy effort during the 2018 Tennessee legislative session! Tell us what you think about it in the comments below.

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