Report: Tobacco Use in Michigan is Leading Cause of Preventable Death and Disease

The American Lung Association based in Chicago with offices in Madison Heights, released its 20th annual State of Tobacco Control report, which found Michigan earned failing grades on passing policies to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.
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Shot of a young woman vaping at home
The American Lung Association released its 20th annual State of Tobacco Control report, which showed Michigan is struggling to reduce and prevent tobacco use. // Stock Photo

The American Lung Association based in Chicago with offices in Madison Heights, released its 20th annual State of Tobacco Control report, which found Michigan earned failing grades on passing policies to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.

Over the last 20 years in Michigan, lawmakers have made significant strides to reduce tobacco use, like Michigan’s comprehensive smoke-free workplace law. There is, however, more work to be done. In Michigan, the adult smoking rate is still 18.4 percent, and the high school tobacco use rate is 23 percent.

“While we have seen considerable progress, tobacco use remains our leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 16,170 lives each year in Michigan,” says Ken Fletcher, director of advocacy at the Lung Association. “And our progress on tobacco control policy has not been equal. We continue to see the unequal burden of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in communities experiencing health disparities.”

Michigan’s grades are listed below:

  • Funding for state tobacco prevention programs — gradeF
  • Strength of smoke-free air laws — grade C
  • Level of state tobacco taxes — gradeF
  • Coverage and access to services to quit tobacco — grade D
  • Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products — grade F

According to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2 million high school and middle school students use e-cigarettes, and more than 80 percent of those kids use flavored e-cigarettes. In addition, menthol cigarettes continue to be the major cause of tobacco-related death and disease in Black communities, with nearly 81 percent of Black Americans who smoke using them.

The report states ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, will not only help end youth vaping, but will also help address the disproportionate impact of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars have on many communities, including Black Americans, LGBTQ+ Americans, and youth.

“Kids follow the flavors, so ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Michigan is key to ending youth tobacco use,” Fletcher says. “We call on legislators in Lansing to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol, across Michigan.”

Compared to the 2022 federal grades, Michigan is slightly behind, but not significantly:

  • Federal government regulation of tobacco products — grade D
  • Federal coverage of quit smoking treatments — grade D
  • Level of federal tobacco taxes — grade F
  • Federal mass media campaigns to prevent and reduce tobacco use — grade A

“In 2022, Michigan needs to redouble their efforts to pass the proven policies called for in ‘State of Tobacco Control’ to help end tobacco use,” says Fletcher. “We cannot afford to wait 20 more years and allow another generation to suffer from tobacco-caused addiction, disease and death.”

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