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Stuck in Neutral: Stalled Progress in Statewide Comprehensive Smoke-Free Laws and Cigarette Excise Taxes, United States, 2000–2014
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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:

    Increasing tobacco excise taxes and implementing comprehensive smoke-free laws are two of the most effective population-level strategies to reduce tobacco use, prevent tobacco use initiation, and protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. We examined state laws related to smoke-free buildings and to cigarette excise taxes from 2000 through 2014 to see how implementation of these laws from 2000 through 2009 differs from implementation in more recent years (2010–2014).


    We used legislative data from LexisNexis, an online legal research database, to examine changes in statewide smoke-free laws and cigarette excise taxes in effect from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2014. A comprehensive smoke-free law was defined as a statewide law prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas of private work sites, restaurants, and bars.


    From 2000 through 2009, 21 states and the District of Columbia implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibiting smoking in work sites, restaurants, and bars. In 2010, 4 states implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws. The last state to implement a comprehensive smoke-free law was North Dakota in 2012, bringing the total number to 26 states and the District of Columbia. From 2000 through 2009, 46 states and the District of Columbia implemented laws increasing their cigarette excise tax, which increased the national average state excise tax rate by $0.92. However, from 2010 through 2014, only 14 states and the District of Columbia increased their excise tax, which increased the national average state excise tax rate by $0.20.


    The recent stall in progress in enacting and implementing statewide comprehensive smoke-free laws and increasing cigarette excise taxes may undermine tobacco prevention and control efforts in the United States, undercutting efforts to reduce tobacco use, exposure to secondhand smoke, health disparities, and tobacco-related illness and death.

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