Eliminating Tobacco-Related Disparities through Comprehensive Tobacco Control Policies

April 7, 2023

Tobacco use is one of the primary causes of cancer-related health disparities - disproportionately impacting people by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, mental health, income and education levels, and geographic location.[i],[ii],[iii] Eliminating health disparities depends heavily on eliminating tobacco use.[iv] 

ACS CAN is pursuing evidence-based policies at the local, state, and federal levels that aim to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes for all individuals by:

  • Implementing comprehensive smoke-free policies in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars, and gaming facilities.
  • Increasing the price of tobacco products through regular and significant tobacco tax increases of at least $1 per pack of cigarettes with an equivalent tax on all other tobacco products.
  • Adequately funding evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs that work to identify and eliminate tobacco-related disparities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national Tips from Former Smokers campaign and state-based programs. 
  • Advocating for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use its full authority to regulate tobacco products and prohibit all flavored products, including menthol.
  • Increasing access to comprehensive cessation coverage in Medicaid and private insurance plans that encompass individual, group, and telephone counseling and all seven FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications.
  • Advocating that state and local government pass comprehensive policies to end the sale of flavored tobacco products that include all tobacco products, all flavors, and all tobacco retailers.

[i] 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.

[ii] 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.

[iii] 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.

[iv] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Healthy People 2030, accessed March 14, 2023, retrieved from