American Lung Association gives Arizona’s tobacco laws a failing grade

Jan 29, 2024, 4:35 AM | Updated: 8:27 am

American Lung Association says Arizona misses the mark on tobacco legislation...

A man spokes a cigarette in front of his house. (Photo by Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

(Photo by Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The American Lung Association released a report on each state’s efforts to limit and prevent tobacco use Wednesday. According to the State of Tobacco Control report, the Grand Canyon state has a lot to improve.

Researchers graded Arizona on five data points that are proven to reduce — or even prevent — tobacco usage:

– Funding for state tobacco prevention programs: F

– Smoke free workplace laws: B

– State tobacco tax: F

– Coverage and access to services to quit tobacco. C

– End the sale of all flavored tobacco products: F

If the state were a high school student, that would be a term GPA of 1.0.

JoAnna Strother, the senior director of advocacy at the American Lung Association in Arizona, said the report’s results are grim.

“We see that Arizona has mostly failing grades when it comes to tobacco control policies meant to protect Arizonans,” she said.

What the American Lung Association wants for Arizona

One area of emphasis for the American Lung Association is raising the state’s tax rate on tobacco products.

Strother calls it a “win, win win” approach because it reduces the number of adults who smoke and introduces fewer youths to tobacco while funneling more money into the state.

According to, a pack of cigarettes comes with a $2 dollar tax charge and loose tobacco, or snuff, is currently taxed at 22.3 cents per ounce.

The American Lung Association’s report also called for a ban on all flavored tobacco products.

“That would mean the state of Arizona would remove all flavored tobacco products from the market so they’re not able to be sold,” Strother said. “Flavored tobacco products are the most popular among youth.”

They’re taking that call further to the feds and calling on Biden to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars at a national level.

Why advocates are working hard to curb tobacco use

Strother says the reason they’re focused on these initiatives is because of young people.

“It is an adult’s choice,” she said. “But what happens with these products is they end up being marketed to kids. Kids become life-long nicotine users.”

That’s also why the association is pushing state lawmakers to create a retailer licensing system that stop shops from selling to underage customers.

Currently there are one-time fines, Strother said. The American Lung Association wants to see harsher punishments for stores with a pattern of selling tobacco to customers under 21.

Arizona is one of eight states that lack this licensing system.

“They know which retailers will sell them tobacco products,” Strother said, referring to kids who seek out cigarettes and vapes.

The overall goal of these initiatives is to protect the health of Arizonans and reduce healthcare costs generated from tobacco use and related illnesses.

According to the American Lung Association, 8,250 Arizonans die each year due to tobacco.

“Our smoking rate is 12.7% for adults,” Strother said. “In high schoolers, 17.4%. So, we’re looking to reduce those rates, reduce the healthcare costs due to smoking.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) attends a House Armed Services Committee hearing on July 9, 2020, in Wash...

Ruben Gallego calls Arizona US Senate rival Kari Lake’s switch up on John McCain ‘insulting’

Democratic Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Ruben Gallego isn't buying Kari Lake's change of heart when it comes to John McCain.

38 minutes ago


KTAR Video

Video: Arizona and New York attorneys battle over extraditing murder suspect

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said New York City authorities can extradite a murder suspect, but after he’s prosecuted for violent crimes in metro Phoenix. This comes in response to recent remarks by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that garnered national attention. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News Photos: Getty Images

2 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

Festival highlighting Arizona’s wildlife, scenery taking place in the Valley this weekend

A festival highlighting Arizona's animals, its landscape and everything in between is taking place in the Phoenix area this weekend.

2 hours ago

An Arizona Public Service worker wearing a helmet and yellow vest holds a yellow pole while working...

Kevin Stone

Arizona utility regulators approve rate hike for APS, the state’s largest electric company

APS customers will soon see higher bills after regulators approved a rate hike Thursday night for the state's largest electric utility company.

3 hours ago

A nighttime time-elapse photo shows lights streaking across Interstate 10 at US 60 in metro Phoenix...

Watch for multiple restrictions on metro Phoenix freeways this weekend

Drivers should be on alert for lane restrictions and closures on multiple metro Phoenix freeways this weekend, with an emphasis on the East Valley.

4 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

2 arrested in southern Arizona after drug, firearms discovered at multiple properties

Two people were arrested last week after the discovery of a cache of firearms and drugs on their Arizona properties, authorities said.

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

American Lung Association gives Arizona’s tobacco laws a failing grade