Policies Protect Louisiana Residents

Tobacco Legislation Efforts in Louisiana

Policy change is a key component in the success of tobacco control programs. Smoke-free air, tobacco taxes and other evidence-based policies are effective in reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. By educating state leaders, decision-makers and the public on best practices for tobacco control, Well-Ahead Louisiana is working to reduce the burden of tobacco use statewide.

To create change, it takes collaboration between state leaders, decision-makers and the public. Tobacco policies have the potential to help reduce disparities in tobacco use and tobacco-related health conditions. They can address social determinants of health (the root cause of many health threats according to the American Public Health Association),1 shape social norms and help make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Louisiana residents.

Stay Informed on Louisiana Policies and Laws!

Contact Leaders

Reach out to Louisiana leaders to learn more about what the Louisiana House and Senate are doing to combat tobacco use in our state.

Watch Hearings

Tune in live or watch previous hearings to learn what the Louisiana House and Senate are doing to combat tobacco use in our state.

Take Action

Join the Louisiana Tobacco Coalition, and collaborate with community leaders and organizations in championing change for tobacco control in Louisiana.

Tobacco Industry Targeting Disadvantaged Communities

Tobacco companies have long targeted disadvantaged communities with marketing for their products, and this practice continues today in communities across Louisiana. Disadvantaged communities are burdened by a disproportionate number of tobacco stores, more prolific and prominent tobacco advertising in those stores, and more frequent and steeper discounts on tobacco product prices.

This aggressive tobacco marketing in high-minority, low-income communities is a significant driver of widening disparities in tobacco use and rates of successful cessation attempts. By no coincidence, low-income and lower-educated groups and those with poor mental health are much more likely to suffer from tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco controls can reduce inequitable exposure to harmful tobacco marketing and inequitable access to tobacco-free spaces.

Local Policies for Success

Because disadvantaged communities are disproportionately targeted, it is important to implement tobacco controls to reduce inequitable exposure to harmful tobacco marketing and inequitable access to tobacco-free spaces.2 Different communities are likely to have different needs or challenges depending upon a variety of factors, so local tobacco control policies are effective.

Using local knowledge to forge community-specific solutions allows for a targeted approach to combat related disparities and ensure equitable access to better public health. Grassroots educational efforts could build community readiness, increase local awareness and inform public debate about potential related state level policy change.3

Equality is giving everyone the same bike. Equity is giving everyone a bike that meets their needs so they can ride the bike.

Preemption in Tobacco Control

Preemption is when a law is passed at a higher level of government that prevents or makes it illegal for lower levels of government to pass stronger or more restrictive laws. Since the strongest and most innovative tobacco control policies emerge at the local level, preemption harms successful tobacco control efforts.


Youth Access Laws

One of the tenants of effective tobacco control is reducing youth initiation of tobacco products. Youth access laws address the accessibility of youth to purchase tobacco products.

Some examples of these policies include:3

  • Raising the age that people can purchase tobacco products.
  • Increasing the price of tobacco products.
  • Limiting the flavors or availability of different types of tobacco products that appeal to youth.
  • Limiting the number of tobacco retailers within a certain proximity to schools.

Minimum Legal Sales Age

In December 2019, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum legal sales age for all tobacco products from 18 to 21, nationwide. Increasing the sales age for tobacco products to 21 helps counter the tobacco industry’s efforts to target youth at a critical time when many may transition from experimenting with tobacco to regular smoking.5

Local Policies to Reduce Youth Initiation

Louisiana is one of 24 states that preempts local governments from enacting stricter youth access regulations than that of the state government. By removing preemptive language from Louisiana’s youth access law, communities will be able to enact additional measures to meet the needs of those living in their communities. This allows for potentially stronger policies to emerge at the local level that deter young people from initiating tobacco use.6

Increasing smoke-free places and combatting the targeted marketing in high-minority low-income neighborhoods by equitably increasing tobacco control measures can help to reduce youth initiation of tobacco products in these communities.

Penalties for Youth Tobacco Sales

Because of tobacco industry tactics to target youth, it is important that the enforcement of youth access laws holds retailers and the industry accountable for compliance, and does not punish employees for illegal sales or youth for purchase, use or possession.6,7 These strategies align with best practice recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Current Louisiana LawsBest Practice Recommendation
Who is penalized: Person who Buys or Sells Tobacco ProductsWho is penalized: Tobacco Retail License Holder
First Violation: Maximum of $50First Violation: Minimum of $300
Second Violation: Maximum of $100Second Violation within 36 months: Minimum of $600
Third Violation: Maximum of $250Subsequent Violation(s) within 36 months: Minimum of $1,000
Subsequent Violation(s): Maximum of $400 

The additional revenue from raising fines can fund the best practice standard of two compliance checks per year by an underage decoy, plus re-checks of retailers not in compliance. These changes can move us toward a tobacco-free Louisiana.

Tobacco Taxes

Raising the price of tobacco products is one of the most effective strategies for reducing initiation, decreasing consumption and increasing cessation of tobacco.7 Increasing the price can also reduce tobacco-related disparities among diverse income, racial and ethnic groups since these populations are disproportionately targeted by tobacco companies.8

Access to cheap tobacco products leads to an increase in use and consumption.9 But when prices for one type of tobacco increase, users often switch to other, less expensive tobacco products.10 Youth and low-income populations are the most sensitive and responsive to changes in the price of tobacco products.11 By increasing the price, low-income residents that use tobacco are more likely to quit or cutback, and youth are less likely to start, reducing their risks of tobacco related disease and death.12

Smoke-Free Laws and Policies

All Louisiana residents should be able to work in a smoke-free environment. State employees are protected by tobacco-free policies when at work, but there are certain types of workplaces that experience higher secondhand smoke exposure rates (e.g., bars, gambling facilities). Passing comprehensive smoke-free policies would not only address these disparities in protections from secondhand smoke, but these policies have also been associated with an overall decline in smoking prevalence.

Citations

1Public Health Law. Retrieved from https://publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/Focusing-on-Equity-and-Inclusion-2018.pdf

2Tobacco Policy Center. Retrieved from https://tobaccopolicycenter.org/tobacco-control/health-equity/

3Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, 2014. Preemption: The Biggest Challenge to Tobacco Control https://publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/tclc-fs-preemption-tobacco-control-challenge-2014.pdf

4Centers for Disease Control, 2018. STATE System Preemption Fact Sheet https://chronicdata.cdc.gov/download/uu8y-j6ga/application%2Fpdf

5American Lung Association, 2019. Tobacco 21 Laws: Raising the Minimum Sales Age for All Tobacco Products to 21. Retrieved from https://www.lung.org/policy-advocacy/tobacco/prevention/tobacco-21-laws.

6Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA:. US Department of Health and Human Services.

7Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.

8National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2015. Best Practices User Guide: Health Equity in Tobacco Prevention and Control. Atlanta: United States Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/stateandcommunity/best-practices-health-equity/pdfs/bp-health-equity.pdf

9Change Labs Solutions, 2013. Model Legislation Establishing a Minimum Retail Sales Price for Cigarettes (and Other Tobacco Products) an effective tobacco control strategy. Retrieved from: http://changelabsolutions.org/publications/minimum-tobacco-sales-price

10Cantrell J, Kreslake et al., 2013. Marketing little cigars and cigarillos: advertising, price, and associations with neighborhood demographics. Am J Public Health. 2013;103(10):1902-1909. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301362.

11Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2018. Tobacco Tax Increases Benefit Lower-Income Smokers and Families. Retrieved from https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0147.pdf

12World Health Organization, 2015. The Economic and Health Benefits of Tobacco Taxation. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/179423/1/WHO_NMH_PND_15.6_eng.pdf?ua=1&ua=1