Effective Policies Known to Prevent Tobacco Use and Address Tobacco-Related Disparities

January 19, 2024

Despite decades of decline, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke is responsible for 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S.[i] and cigarette smoking causes about 30 percent of all cancer deaths,[ii] and as much as 40 percent in parts of the South and Appalachia.[iii] Tobacco use has been found to be one of the primary drivers of cancer-related health disparities because its use disproportionately impacts people based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, mental health, income level, education level, and geographic location.[iv],[v],[vi] Achieving health equity relies heavily on eliminating tobacco use.

Our ability to continue to make progress against cancer relies heavily on eliminating the inequities that exist in cancer prevention and care. ACS CAN is pursuing fact-based tobacco control policies at the local, state and federal levels that aim to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes for everyone including:

  • Adequately funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs (2014);
  • Enacting comprehensive smoke-free laws that cover all workplaces, including restaurants, bars and gaming facilities;
  • Regularly and significantly increasing tobacco excise taxes on all tobacco products;
  • Increasing access to state Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation;
  • Ending the sale of flavored tobacco products;
  • Supporting federal regulation of tobacco products by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and
  • Preserving local control of public health policies.

The tobacco industry has a history of using litigation to avoid and delay laws and regulations enacted to safeguard the public. ACS CAN is pursuing fact-based policies at the local, state, and federal levels that aim to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes for all individuals.


[i] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.

[ii] Jacobs EJ, Newton CC, Carter BD, et al. What proportion of cancer deaths in the contemporary United States is attributable to cigarette smoking? Ann Epidemiol. 2015;25(3): 179-182 & Islami F, Goding Sauer A, Miller KD, et al. Proportion and number of cancer cases and deaths attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors in the United States. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018;68(1): 31-54.

[iii] Islami F, Bandi P, Sahar L, Ma J, Drope J, Jemal A. Cancer deaths attributable to cigarette smoking in 152 U.S. metropolitan or micropolitan statistical areas, 2013-2017. Cancer Causes Control. 2021;32(3): 311-316.

[iv] Irvin Vidrine J, Reitzel LR, Wetter DW. The role of tobacco in cancer health disparities. Curr Oncol Rep. 2009 Nov;11(6):475-81. doi: 10.1007/s11912-009-0064-9. PMID: 19840525; PMCID: PMC5031414.

[v] Webb Hooper M. Editorial: Preventing Tobacco-Related Cancer Disparities: A Focus on Racial/Ethnic Minority Populations. Ethn Dis. 2018 Jul 12;28(3):129-132. doi: 10.18865/ed.28.3.129. PMID: 30038472; PMCID: PMC6051506.

[vi] Tong EK, Fagan P, Cooper L, Canto M, Carroll W, Foster-Bey J, Hébert JR, Lopez-Class M, Ma GX, Nez Henderson P, Pérez-Stable EJ, Santos L, Smith JH, Tan Y, Tsoh J, Chu K. Working to Eliminate Cancer Health Disparities from Tobacco: A Review of the National Cancer Institute's Community Networks Program. Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 Aug;17(8):908-23. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntv069. PMID: 26180215; PMCID: PMC4542844.