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American Lung Association Gives PA's Tobacco Policies D-Average

Gerald Herbert
In this photo, a person smokes inside a bar in New Orleans.

According to the American Lung Association, state lawmakers are not doing enough to reduce tobacco use in the state. The group gave Pennsylvania's smoking-adjacent policies a D-average.

The association rated the commonwealth in five categories -- prevention and cessation funding, smoke-free air, tobacco taxes, cessation services and the legal age of purchasing tobacco. Pennsylvania received Fs across the board, except in smoke free-air (C) and tobacco taxes (D). 

The group is encouraging state lawmakers to make some changes, such as raising the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.

"We know that nicotine is very addictive, and it can be particularly harmful to youths and young adults," said Executive Vice President of the Association's Mid-Atlantic branch Deb Brown. "It can negatively impact their brain development.

A UCLA study from 2011 showed that teen smokers had less activity in the part of the brain that processes decision making. According to the American Lung Association, almost 100 percent of smokers tried their first cigarette before the age of 21.

The group also urges a revision to Pennsylvania's Clean Indoor Air Act to spot allowing smoking in some bars and casinos. Brown said about 50 percent of the state's casino floors permit smoking.

"It's really difficult for someone who has to work in that environment to breathe in smokey air every day," Brown said. "We don't want people to have to choose between a job and breathing clean indoor air."

Eighteen percent of Pennsylvania adults are smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The American Lung Association's report did not include data on e-cigarettes. 

Kathleen J. Davis covers news about just about anything at WESA. She’s also the primary reporter and producer of WESA’s weekly series Pittsburgh Tech Report. Kathleen originally hails from the great state of Michigan, and is always available to talk about suburban Detroit and Coney Island diners. She lives in Bloomfield.
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