American Lung Association finds Michigan's efforts not enough to lower tobacco use

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FLINT (WJRT) - (01/25/17) - 21.7 percent of those living in Michigan are smokers - a number higher than in most other states.

That's why a new report out Wednesday from the American Lung Association finds that the state still isn't doing enough to curb the addiction.

Over $300 billion in health-related costs annually is tied directly to smoking, and with such high numbers, the American Lung Association says there's still a lot that can be done.

"Our cigarette tax is still low; it's $2 a pack and it's not the same for other tobacco products, so by raising that by at least $1, we can raise very needed funds to go toward tobacco cessation programming to help people quit smoking and you can deter people from smoking," said Ken Fletcher, of the American Lung Association.

Michigan has required many establishments, including restaurants, to become smoke-free zones in recent years. However, youth tobacco use still remains a major issue.

"Ninety-five percent of all smokers will start smoking before the age of 21," Fletcher said. "So, if we can raise the age that you can buy tobacco products up to 21, we know that we can potentially reduce and keep a lot of people from even starting in the first place."

In Genesee County, an ordinance to do just that is up for discussion this week.

"On Jan. 30, the Genesee County Board of Commissioners will be considering that ordinance to buy tobacco products to 21," Fletcher said.

Residents are urged to contact their county commissioners to lend their support to the change.

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