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Report: Delaware excels in smoking restrictions, fails at tobacco tax

Courtesy of Tomasz Sienicki, Wikimedia Commons, 2005.

Delaware still has a lot of work to do in curbing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.


That includes Delaware’s tax on tobacco. The 2017 State of Tobacco Control report says the tax is not as high as it could be.


At $1.60 cents per pack of cigarettes, American Lung Association Mid-Atlantic President and CEO Deb Brown said the ALA would like to see that go up by at least $1. That’s something that was in former Gov. Markell’s final budget proposal. Brown said they also want to see tax parity for cigarettes and other tobacco products. 


“That way there is no temptation for people to go to products that are priced cheaper because they aren’t taxed the same,” Brown said.


Delaware received an “F” for its laws allowing people ages 18 and older to purchase tobacco products. That is new criteria for the report, and Brown said the American Lung Association would like to see the age raised to 21 in all states. California and Hawaii have already passed laws raising the age.


Brown said Nicotine can negatively impact brain development in young adults. It’s been found to increase dopamine levels, blood pressure and heart rate. 


“I think everyone recognizes whatever we can do to put measures in place to prevent young people from ever starting is something that’s really important and will save lives,” Brown said.


Currently in the First State, the high school smoking rate is just under 10 percent, compared to about 17 percent in adults.  But overall tobacco use rate among high schoolers is nearly 30 percent - 11 points higher than adults.


Delaware also received a "C" in access to cessation services. Dr. Karyl Rattay, the director of Delaware's Division of Public Health, said, in an email, that the DPH believes cessation programs are vital for the First State.


"That is why DPH offers the Quitline program free for adults age 18 and older to receive cessation counseling from trained counselors either by telephone or face-to-face," Rattay said.


The Delaware Quitline, which can be reached by dialing 1-866-409-1858, was launched in 2002 as an aid to Delawareans trying to quit tobacco use. 


The First State did, however, receive high marks for “smoke-free air”. Brown says that’s due to Delaware’s “clean indoor air law,” which she called one of the most comprehensive policies in the country.



Updated at 2:00 p.m. on Jan. 26 to include comments from the Division of Public Health.


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