Massachusetts was alone among states in earning an A for its flavored tobacco product ban, but officials at the American Lung Association gave the Bay State a failing grade when it comes to its efforts to fund tobacco prevention programs.

In a “State of Tobacco Control” report issued by the association on Wednesday, Massachusetts also got an A for the strength of its smoke-free workplace laws, earned a B for the level of its tobacco taxes, and got a C based on an assessment of coverage and access to services to help people quit tobacco products.

Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking 480,000 lives every year, the association said, and tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure disproportionately impact communities of color, LGTBQ+ Americans and low-income communities.

The Massachusetts law ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including a ban on menthol cigarettes, went into full effect in 2020, and a grading category was added to the association’s 19th annual report for such products because it said they are driving youth vaping and tobacco use overall.

“In Massachusetts, we have a lot to celebrate with the enactment of a strong comprehensive flavored tobacco prohibition – but unfortunately it’s not all good news,” said Michael Seilback, the association’s national assistant vice president for state public policy. “Our high school tobacco use rate remains at an alarming 37 percent. The surge in youth vaping combined with the fact that smoking increases the chance of severe COVID-19 symptoms, make it more important than ever for Massachusetts to focus beyond the store shelves, and increase prevention and cessation funding, which is necessary to reach Bay Staters at all stages of tobacco addiction. These are proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use.”

(Copyright (c) 2020 State House News Service.

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