Saturday, March 27, 2010

Can I Smoke in Here?

New tobacco map highlights state differences.

An interactive online map set, showing state-by-state variations in smoke-free laws, cigarette tax rates, and rates of tobacco control spending, has been put together by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and is now available for viewing at the foundation’s Public Health site HERE.

“Users will be able to see whether a state is ahead or behind the curve in protecting and promoting health,” says Michelle Larkin, the leader of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Public Health Team. “We know from the research that the two most effective policies to pursue are raising tobacco taxes and putting smoke-free air laws into place,” says Larkin, adding that “these two policies help to prevent youth from ever starting to smoke and they also help smokers quit.”

To that end, the interactive maps that comprise the project can be used to track changes from state to state in smoke-free legislation and taxation rates over time. A third map can be used to track the extent to which states are complying with CDC recommendations for tobacco control expenditures. (Answer: most of them aren’t.)

The hope is that the interactive tobacco map will provide policymakers with a nationwide picture of tobacco policy, using the state-by-state breakdowns to predict trends and to demonstrate how the tobacco control landscape has evolved and changed over the years.

The RWJF Tobacco Map uses data from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Americans for Non-Smokers’ Rights.

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