Collinsville, Oklahoma
January 17, 2010
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Oklahoma Does Poorly in Every Category in American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control Annual Report Card

Oklahoma Has an Opportunity to Turn Around its Failing Policies by Passing a Comprehensive Statewide Smokefree Law

Editor’s Note: Complete report including federal and state grades available at:

OKLAHOMA—Oklahoma almost flunked every category in the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2009 report released today. Oklahoma failed to enact or put into place proven policies for preventing death and disease caused by tobacco use, the number one preventable cause of death in the United States.

Oklahoma received the following grades:

· Tobacco Prevention and Control Spending, F

· Cigarette Tax, D

· Smokefree Air, D

· Cessation Coverage, D

The annual report card sounds an urgent alarm for Oklahoma. In the battle to reduce the devastating toll of tobacco use, the stakes are extremely high.

Oklahoma received a commendation in this year’s report for continuing to gradually increase funding to its state tobacco control program. Oklahoma is one of very few states that contribute their Master Settlement Agreement funds to a trust and spend the total interest earnings on tobacco control.

“The consequences of success or failure are life or death,” said Michelle Bernth, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Health Promotions and Public Policy. “For Oklahoma, the report card sounds a wake-up call. This is the year Oklahoma must pass a comprehensive statewide smokefree law.”

State of Tobacco Control 2009 grades states and the District of Columbia on smokefree air laws; cigarette tax rates; tobacco prevention and control program funding; and coverage of cessation treatments and services, designed to help smokers quit.

“It is imperative that we hold our elected officials accountable for failing to fully implement robust policies to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use,” said Bernth.

Tobacco-related illness remains the number-one preventable cause of death in the U.S. and is responsible for an estimated 6,212deaths in Oklahoma. Tobacco-related illness kills more than 393,000 Americans each year and costs our nation a staggering $193 billion annually. Another 50,000 Americans die from exposure to secondhand smoke exposure. The U.S. Surgeon General has declared that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

To calculate grades published in State of Tobacco Control 2009, the American Lung Association compared policies against targets based on the most current, recognized scientific criteria for effective tobacco control.

The American Lung Association report comes at a critical moment, when states cannot afford any complacency in efforts to curb the enormous burden of tobacco use. Events in 2009 underscored both the continuing devastation resulting from tobacco-caused disease and the outlaw character of the tobacco companies’ schemes:

Tobacco Epidemic Persists
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 46 million adults in the U.S. were smoking, according to the most recent (2008) survey data, and that the nation’s “progress in ending the tobacco epidemic” had halted. The findings “indicate an alarming trend,” the CDC warned in November, “because smoking is the leading preventable cause of death.”

Court Affirms that Tobacco Companies are “Racketeers”
In the District of Columbia, a U.S. appeals court upheld a trial judge’s verdict that tobacco companies violated federal laws against racketeering and lied for decades to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking.

The May 22 opinion was important not only for its findings about the past, but also for troubling concerns it raised about the future. The tobacco companies, the court said, “knew about the negative health consequences of smoking, the addictiveness and manipulation of nicotine, the harmfulness of secondhand smoke, and the concept of smoker compensation, which makes light cigarettes no less harmful than regular cigarettes and possibly more.” In the future, the appeals court held, the tobacco companies were likely to violate racketeering laws again.

State Grades
Six states -- Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia received all “F’s.” No state earned straight “A’s” in State of Tobacco Control 2009.

Facing record budget deficits, 14 states turned to cigarette taxes to increase revenues. Nonetheless, only four states qualified for an “A” grade in this category by imposing cigarette excise taxes of $2.68 or more.

Four proven policies to save lives and cut healthcare costs are higher tobacco taxes, prevention and control programs funded at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), comprehensive smokefree air laws and coverage of cessation treatments. Many states, however, continue to fail to enact these critical policy measures. Instead, state-level political candidates accepted more than $7 million in campaign contributions from the tobacco industry in 2007-2008 and more than $675,000 through the first 11 months of 2009. In a disturbing trend, ten states and the District of Columbia made alarming cuts of 25 percent or more to their tobacco control programs. These cuts undermine progress because a robust tobacco prevention and control program sustains and even expands the impact of higher cigarette taxes and smokefree workplace laws.

Federal Grades
The federal government took major and meaningful steps in 2009 to curb the burden caused by tobacco use. For two decades the American Lung Association has sought legislation for FDA regulation of tobacco products. Congress finally passed the legislation early in 2009. President Obama signed it June 22.

Congress also more than doubled the federal cigarette tax, from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack. In addition, both chambers of Congress passed healthcare reform legislation that could expand coverage under Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance for helping smokers quit.

The 2009 annual report card gives the federal government an “A” for FDA regulation of tobacco products and a “D” for the federal cigarette tax, along with an “F” for cessation coverage and a “D” for ratification of the FCTC. The Obama administration has not submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification, leaving the U.S. unable to participate in talks to implement and enforce the treaty.

“It is time for Oklahoma’s elected officials to redouble efforts to reduce tobacco use, which is at the heart of a crisis plaguing America’s health and economy,” said Bernth. “It will require strong policies coming from both Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C. to end the tobacco epidemic.”

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have passed comprehensive smokefree workplace laws protecting the public and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. The American Lung Association is dedicated to protecting each and every American from secondhand smoke through its Smokefree Air Challenge, which is a nationwide campaign to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in all work and public places.

About the American Lung Association: Now in our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates are currently increasing while other leading causes of death are declining. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit

Contact: Michelle Bernth (1/12/2010)
(p) 314-645-5505 x1001
(c) 636-866-8340


OWASSO, OK - Gubernatorial candidate state Senator Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso) today announced his adamant opposition to the Obama administration's Council of Governors.

"This power grab eliminates the lines between federal and state authority," Brogdon said. "This move by the administration undoubtedly violates our Tenth Amendment rights as a state."

The establishment of the Council was directed by the 110th Congress in 2008 by the enactment of Public Law 110–181, Section 1822. However, an executive order was signed by President Obama on the 11th of January to initiate the action.

The Council of Governors, according to the White House web site, will consist of ten governors selected by the President and will work directly with federal military and security agencies on military activities within the United States.

"As governor I would never sit idly by and allow the federal government to usurp power clearly delegated to the State of Oklahoma," Brogdon said.

Brogdon, a longtime defender of states' Tenth Amendment rights, called on Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry to boycott the Council if called upon, and immediately denounce any further intrusive action on the citizens of this state.

"This is an opportunity for us as a free people to stand up and stand strong for the protection of our freedoms," Brogdon concluded.