Fifty years after the first Surgeon General's report, Louisiana is still failing to stop tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable death in the state. That's the word from the American Lung Association in its latest "State of Tobacco Control" report.

The ALA says Louisiana made no progress this past year in reducing tobacco-caused death and disease.

"Despite strides in reducing smoking rates in America by half in the last 50 years, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S., including lung cancer, the number one cancer killer of both men and women in America," says ALA Interim Chief Executive Officer for the Plains-Gulf Region Jennifer Cofer. "The Surgeon General's 2014 report is the clarion call that our nation needs to renew its commitment and not let another 50 years of inaction occur."

In advance of the 50th anniversary, the ALA and its partners called for action by all levels of government to achieve three bold goals:

  • Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18%, to less than 10% within 10 years
  • Protect all Americans from second-hand smoke within five years
  • Ulitimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use

"If these goals are to be realized and lives are to be saved, Louisiana must enact these life-saving policies," says Cofer. "In short, our nation cannot afford the health or financial consequences of failing to act."

Here are Louisiana's grades for 2013:

  • Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding -- F
  • Smoke-free Air -- B
  • Cigarette Tax -- F
  • Cessation Coverage -- F

Texas scored slightly worse than we did. The state failed for Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding, as well as Cessation Coverage and Smoke-free Air. For Cigarette Tax, it got a D.

Cofer says tobacco causes nearly 6,500 deaths annually in Louisiana, and costs the state's economy more than $3.5-million in healthcare costs and lost productivity. It causes more than 24,000 deaths in Texas each year, and costs the state's economy slightly over $13-million each year. The ALA says that causes a tremendous burden that neither state can afford.

"Smokefree workplace laws, high tobacco taxes, funding tobacco prevention and quit-smoking programs at recommended levels and providing insurance coverage for quit-smoking treatments have been proven to reduce tobacco use," Cofer says. "All that is missing in Louisiana and Texas is the political will from our elected officials." She says leaders in Baton Rouge and Austin must step up to provide smokers with the support they need to quit, and adequately fund prevention programs that help keep our kids off tobacco.

CLICK HERE for the complete "State of Tobacco Control 2014" report.

Louisiana residents who need help quitting smoking can log on to the Quit With Us, Louisiana, website.  For Texas residents, head to the Quit Now website.