by Scout Director, National LGBT Tobacco Control Network
Hey y’all, we’re at the closing plenary of the CDC tobacco conference listening to Dr. Andrew Highland give an update of tobacco trends over the next five years. Let me try to match this guys speedtalking with some speednotetaking, ok? (and mucho gracias to him for the visuals in this post).
Tobacco Trends in Next Five Years
- More taxes! Currently my tiny home state, lil Rhody, leads the country in cig taxes with a lovely $3.46/pack tax. But… seems like we’re behind the world on average and sincethey’ve found this is one of themost effective tools to help motivate folk to quit, we’re gonna see more and more. Now if they’d just also use the money for cessation, or even just public health bans.
- More tax evasion and illegal cigarette commerce. Interesting concept, eh? The speaker gave the example that if he took the rear seats out of his minivan then loaded it with cigarettes from a tax free state then took them to NY, he’d clear about $25k in one run. And as he noted, the penalties are relatively minor. In fact, in a recent study they found that 17% of a representative sample of submitted cigarette packs didn’t have their appropriate tax stamps.
- More clean indoor air policies – again to reiterate the main point of the recent Institute of Medicine report, passing a good clean indoor air policy alone can disappear 1/5 of the heart attacks in the region. This is big, and how big it is is relatively new news to the health arena, so look for more work to get these strong policies passed everywhere.
- More comprehensive tobacco programs. We know they work, one example was in the 1st 15 yrs of CA tobacco control (ack, he changed the slide, what were those numbers??),
it cost oh (trying ot remember) about $11B and saved about $86B. (<- don’t quote me on that, but the proportions are close, and were those really Bs? Not Ms? I think so.)
- Quitting? Quitlines are cost effective, but most folk quit unaided. We should encourage quit attempts, reduce social acceptability of smoking, and focus on clean air policies. Pricing and clean indoor air policies are by far the most cost effective of all cessation activities.
- Youth smoking? Little evidence that school based education alone is effective. Little evidence that youth restrictions alone are effective. Policy changes affect youth too, in fact youth are more price sensitive than adults so we should really focus on this tool.
- FDA? Light and mild being banned this month. New labels coming in this month. They will also be ramping up enforcement all across the country. But… states can and still should be doing old-fashioned tobacco control. Limiting tobacco outlets and tobacco advertising is still a wide field of opportunity.
- What does this all mean for state tobacco control programs? Each state should have clean air, high prices, and a comprehensive program. But after that, there’s a lot of room to get creative. States can limit number of tobacco outlets; limit where ads are placed in a retail setting; and eliminate buy-one-get-one-free offers – these steps may really curb smoking. But, get your warchest in order because there will be legal challenges from you know who.
(<-maybe some of the taxes should be set aside for the legal challenges.) What does the industry think of retail ad bans? Precedent from out of the U.S. shows they will counter with “research” showing ad bans promote organized crime and black market sales. (ask me for the link to the website they’ve created about this “research”, I’d prefer not to put it here.)
Some odd notes
- On the coming ban on “Light” and “Mild” labeling. The industry is likely to replace the wording with things like “Ultra Smooth” or, in something that’s been shown to be effective, change their box colors so the lighter colors indicate the former “Light” cigarettes.
- Check out “Urban Wave” on youtube or FB to see some examples of how the industry is creating ‘stealth’ marketing opportunities.
- We’ve gotta think BIG! We still have 430k tobacco deaths/yr. We know lots of what works; high prices, clean air, and comprehensive programs all work! If you’ve got all that, explore the creative options beyond that. Look at this as an investment in your future, the payoff can be very large in terms of lives and cost-savings, and the faster you do it, the faster the payoff begins.