- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia is failing in its efforts to reduce and prevent tobacco use, the American Lung Association said in a report released Wednesday.

The association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2015” report gave Virginia F’s for tobacco prevention, smoke-free air, tobacco taxes and access to cessation services.

Virginia also received a thumbs-down for its 30 cents per pack cigarette tax, which is the second-lowest in the nation behind Missouri’s 17 cents per pack tax.

Virginia, which receives about $295 million in tobacco-related revenue, spends 12.2 percent of the $91.6 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for tobacco prevention and cessation.

The state invests 38 centers per smoker in its telephone quitline for smokers. The average amount invested by states in quitlines is $3.65 per smoker, the report said.

Smoking is restricted in public schools, retail stores, bars and restaurants, government workplaces, child care facilities, and recreational and cultural facilities. But there are no state provisions restricting smoking in gambling establishments and private workplaces, the report said.

“Virginia is failing to adequately fund proven tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Adequate funding of these proven programs are essential to reducing the burden of tobacco on our future generations and current tobacco users,” the American Lung Association in Virginia said in the report.

State employee health plans contain barriers to cessation access, including duration limits, co-payments and required counseling to obtain medications. Virginia does not require private health plans to cover cessation treatments.

The American Lung Association in Virginia called on state lawmakers to restore funding for tobacco use prevention programs, eliminate smoking in all public places and workplaces, and increase funding for state tobacco cessation services, including the quitline.

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