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Report: Hawaii Gets Mixed Grades On Tobacco Control Efforts

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LIHUE — Hawaii received mixed grades on its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use last year amid concerns about worsening youth vaping, a report said.

The American Lung Association released its State of Tobacco Control report giving Hawaii various grades in five categories on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, The Garden Island reports.

Hawaii received a D for its funding of tobacco prevention programs and two Cs for its level of state tobacco taxes and coverage and access to services to quit tobacco, agency officials said.

The state also received a B for its age restrictions and an A for its smoke-free workplace laws, officials said.

“The need for Hawaii to take action to protect youth from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, is more urgent than ever, with the youth-vaping epidemic continuing its alarming rise to 27.5%, or more than one in four high school students,” agency officials said in a news release.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the country, taking about 480,000 lives each year, officials said.

“In Hawaii alone, there are more than 140,000 current smokers,” said Carrie Nyssen, Hawaii American Lung Association advocacy senior director.

The agency encourages Hawaii lawmakers to enact all the public policies called for in report, including the need to increase funding for tobacco prevention and quit-smoking programs.

“Despite Hawaii receiving over $154 million from tobacco-settlement payments and tobacco taxes, the state funding for tobacco control is just over $6.3 million, just 57.5% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to prevent tobacco use and help smokers quit,” Nyssen said.

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