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Mixed grades for state's tobacco control

Ryan said the association gave Vermont a 'D' grade for its investment in tobacco prevention and control efforts. This past year Vermont allocated $4.5 million in state funds for the state's comprehensive Tobacco Control Program and received an additional $1.36 million, including one-time stimulus funding, from the federal government.

Vermont fell fall short of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation of $10.4 million resulting in a 'D' for this category, Ryan noted.

According to an American Lung Association news release, 85 percent of the money Vermont receives from the tobacco industry's master settlement agreement goes to Medicaid, with 4 percent directed to the state's Tobacco Control Program.

According to Ryan, the American Lung Association gave Vermont a 'B' grade for its cigarette tax. Ryan likes higher prices for cigarettes; she said it is proven to prevent youth smoking and motivate smokers to quit. It is difficult to find statistics, at least in Vermont, that support the claim.

Rayn said the American Lung Association would like elected officials to increase the tax by up to $1 per pack.

Despite legitimate health concerns, state officials and even anti-smoking groups seem to be content in keeping tobacco products legal-more taxes on tobacco help fund social and health programs proposed by special interests apparently invested in prolonging the tobacco legalization dilemma.

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