WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania has a reputation for being home to many people who smoke and the American Lung Association is saying the commonwealth is not doing enough to change that.
The Lung Association compiles a yearly report about tobacco control. The report just out Wednesday reveals Pennsylvania is among the states with the worst ranking.
Chris Dankulich makes no secret about enjoying cigarettes.
“Oh, a long time. 30 years,” said Dankulich.
He’s among the nearly 15% of Pennsylvania adults who do, according to the American Lung Association.
“It’s a bad habit. There are other nicotine delivery systems. I mean you don’t have to smoke anymore,” said Dankulich.
Add it all up and Pennsylvania is not doing enough to discourage tobacco use.
Not even close, according to the Lung Association’s 21st annual State of Tobacco Control report. It graded each state in five key categories: Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Funding, Smokefree Air, Tobacco Taxes, Access to Cessation Services, and Flavored Tobacco Products.
Pennsylvania scored two D’s and, even worse, three F’s.
“Well, I do think that it is alarming,” said Deb Brown, Chief Mission Officer for the American Lung Association.
Brown says what the report indicates most of all is that with the help of lawmakers in Harrisburg, improvement is possible.
“Such as preserving our state funding from top four comprehensive prevention and control programs or closing the loopholes in our state clean indoor air act,” said Brown.
Indoor areas include casinos in the commonwealth which still have certain sections where people can smoke.
“The US Surgeon General has concluded that there’s no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” stated Brown.
Another key category is flavored tobacco products in which Pennsylvania got an F. More than one in four high school students use e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Brown encourages the legislature to support more initiatives to improve community health.
“Having programs that quit tobacco not switch to e-cigarettes and help our young people never start. Each year, tobacco takes about 22,000 Pennsylvania residents from us and that’s unacceptable,” explained Brown.
Brown says there are states near Pennsylvania that scored better in the state of tobacco control report, including Delaware which earned two A’s and one B.