Jen Schulte, spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, says 42% of Americans smoked in 1964. Since then, the rate has been cut by more than half to 19%. In Nebraska, we’re slightly above the national average and state lawmakers are aware.
“Nebraska is at 19.7% and they are going to be focusing on increasing tobacco taxes this legislative session,” Schulte says. “It is one of the pillars that has been proven to reduce smoking and overall consumption of tobacco.”
Nebraska ranks 38th in the nation for its tobacco tax rates. Also, Nebraska spends only 11% of the CDC-recommended annual funding level for programs to help prevent youth from using tobacco and help those addicted to quit, ranking it 27th in the nation.
Schulte says that level of spending is unfortunate.
“There’s over 3,000 children starting each day,” Schulte says. “It’s why we need to continue to invest in comprehensive prevention programs that target children. We need to make sure they’re aware of the health risks and the long-term impact.”
She notes one plus, Nebraska does have a comprehensive smoke-free law to protect residents from secondhand smoke in bars, restaurants and workplaces.
Learn more at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network website at: www.acscan.org.