Texas Scores "F's" in Tobacco Report Card

by Jessica Cervantez

In a tobacco report, the American Lung Association gave nearly forty states failing grades for how they handle tobacco issues, especially in how they fund tobacco prevention and control programs. Texas is one of them.

Texas received it's only "A" in youth access. They received a "D" in cigarette taxes, and they received two "F's". One in smoke-free air and one in tobacco prevention and control spending. Members of the American Cancer Society aren't surprised.

Leigh Ann Watson said, "Overall, we agree with the grades."

Watson says they would like to continue implementing new programs that target youth like the Great American Smoke-out, but they say they can't do it without money.

Watson said, "When we implement these programs in the middle school age group we saw a 40% reduction in kids using tobacco products. It is just a matter of funding which is where we got an F in spending and that's because Texas had a tight budget last year. In all fairness, there's never been enough funds allocated to this program to implement a statewide program."

On the flipside, Texas did receive good news. It is now more difficult for anyone under eighteen to buy tobacco products.

Watson said, "Several years ago, legislators passed a law that tobacco products have to be behind the counter and that brought youth access down significantly."

The American Cancer Society provides a wealth of information about tobacco use and its harm. One of their rooms is filled with pamphlets, posters, and brochures, but the bottom line is it's up to the individual to stop smoking or to never start.

Watson said, "We need to put a lot more energy into the youth to bring down the numbers across the state."