Pennsylvania Gets an “F” for Smoking Cessation

In a state where nearly a quarter of us smoke, are we really surprised?

The American Lung Association’s grades are in, Pennsylvania, and we’re smokin’ alright—but not in a good way.

The group’s annual State of Tobacco Control report has given PA two F’s and two C’s—not exactly the glowing marks you’d want to take home to mom and dad. We got C’s for smoke-free air and our cigarette tax, but the F’s are the real doozies: one for tobacco prevention and one for cessation.

Among the major factors dragging down our average is our spending priorities. Although the PA state government set aside over $17 million for tobacco prevention and control programs for fiscal year 2013, a slight increase from last year, it’s just 11 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends states spend on such programs. The CDC’s state-spending recommendation? $155,500,000. Yikes.

The CDC also recommends that states invest $10.53 per smoker for smoking-cessation programs. Pennsylvania’s averaging just 82 cents each as of now, not nearly enough to make a noticeable dent in our state’s 22.3 percent adult smoking rate or our 18.6 percent high school smoking rate. It’s an even steeper uphill battle here in Philly, where 25.2 percent of adults are smokers, representing the highest smoking prevalence among the 10 largest cities in the U.S., according to a 2010 report. In 2009, smoking led to 2,381 deaths in Philly.

For its part, Pennsylvania’s American Lung Association arm is focusing its priorities on efforts to reduce secondhand smoke and tobacco use, and keeping stable—or even increasing—funds for smoking prevention and cessation programs. Here’s hoping they’re successful.