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Lung Association: S.D. 'failing' to control tobacco use

MITCHELL, S.D.—A day after a state legislator unveiled his intentions to introduce a bill raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco in South Dakota to 21, the state was slammed for "failing" to control tobacco use.

The American Lung Association in South Dakota gave the state an F rating in funding for tobacco prevention programs, level of state tobacco taxes, coverage and access to services to quit tobacco and for having a minimum age to purchase tobacco products lower than 21 years old. The state was given a B in the "Smoke-free Air" category.

A press release issued by the organization Wednesday, Jan. 24, found "Governor Dennis Daugaard and the state Legislature failing to enact proven policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives."

The American Lung Association in South Dakota said the state's adult smoking rate is 18 percent, above the national 16.4 percent average, and that 1,250 South Dakotans die every year from tobacco-related illness.

"The Lung Association in South Dakota calls on Governor Daugaard and other South Dakota policymakers to increase the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, raise the age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 years old, and protect South Dakota's comprehensive smoke-free workplace law."

At least one state legislator is working to correct one of those concerns and raise the grade from an F.

On Tuesday, state Rep. Leslie Heinemann, R-Flandreau, told Forum News Service he intends to drop a bill that proposes raising the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.