Last updated: January 9, 2020 Author: Tobacco Control Program
Healthy People 2020 lists 17 statewide tobacco policy objectives (TU13). One of the policies, smoke-free casinos, does not apply in Vermont.
In 2014, 8 statewide laws were in effect including bans in commercial daycare centers and in correctional facilities. By 2018 Vermont had implemented 11 of the 16 laws (excluding smoke-free casinos). Through the work of state college and health system leadership, the tobacco program and its tobacco coalitions, Office of Local Health and other community partners, by end of 2019 Vermont's institutions of higher learning and hospitals had accomplished becoming smoke-free.
In 2020 there are 3 remaining statewide policies Vermont has not yet implemented: 100% smoke-free: (1) home-based daycare facilities, (2) non HUD multi-unit housing, and (3) public entryways/exits. The Program is in the last year of its CDC 5 Year grant which is prioritizing smoke-free multi-unit housing in particular. Exposure to secondhand smoke occurring in multi-unit housing remains the tobacco program's highest source of complaint calls. The program's fourteen tobacco community grantees are funded to work closely with partners, stakeholders and local experts at Offices of Local Health to provide technical assistance and free signage that can help landlords and property managers with creating a smoke-free building or property. While we have numerous local success stories for smoke and tobacco free campuses around daycares and municipal and business entryways/exits, CDC encourages state-level policy to ensure consistency and sustainability of protection.
In 1993, Vermont passed the Clean Indoor Air Act, banning the use of combustible tobacco products within indoor areas of most public places. This law initially included an exemption for restaurants and bars that received more than 50% of revenue from alcohol sales and entertainment, known as the “Cabaret exemption.” In 1995 Vermont public schools became smoke-free indoors. With Vermont establishing a Tobacco Control Program in 2001 with Master Settlement Agreement dollars, it was able to work more aggressively on tobacco control and prevention. In 2005, the Cabaret exemption was removed, requiring all bars and restaurants to be 100% smoke-free. Historically the Tobacco Control Program (TCP) worked closely with partners including the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont and the Vermont Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board (VTERB) to reduce secondhand smoke exposure through increasing the number of statewide smoke-free air laws. For example, one initiative, the youth-led “Free My Ride” campaign, educated on the dangers of smoking in a vehicle with children present, which culminated in the legislature passing restrictions on smoking in cars with children under 8. Another initiative, CounterBalance, seeks to increase understanding of flavored tobacco products and reducing their impact on youth initiation and use of tobacco.
Vermont has made significant progress in passing policies that protect from hazardous secondhand smoke, reduce youth access and contribute to people quitting. In 2012 VTERB and advocates worked on establishing price parity among cigarettes and other tobacco products which helps to prevent consumers switching to another harmful product when the price of cigarettes increases. In 2014, Act 135 passed which established a number of protections including restrictions of smoking in cars with children under 8 and in hotels/motels, creation of a minimum of 25 feet smoke-free boundary around state-owned buildings, and 24/7 tobacco-free restrictions for schools and daycares. In 2015 state grant requirements included tobacco-free grounds and integration of tobacco into treatment for substance abuse treatment centers and efforts continue to create healthy environments for residential mental health centers. In 2016 Act 108 restricted the use of e-cigarettes wherever lit tobacco products are banned.
See below for a historical look at national and Vermont policy passage including tax increases and the decline in the state’s smoking prevalence. The most recent increase was in 2015, when the rate increased to $3.08 per pack of 20. Tax increases are evidence based to decrease tobacco use, especially for price-sensitive youth.
Note: In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented changes to its survey methodology for more accurate representation of the adult population. The graphs may appear continuous but data before 2011 should not be directly compared to that after 2011. Fortunately, this change more accurately reflects the burden of smoking among more disparate populations, especially the low-income.