The fight to stop the tobacco industry’s dangerous hold on our country’s health is ever-changing and demands strong, comprehensive public policy change.
States Not Keeping Promise to Fund the Fight to Curb Tobacco Use
Funding tobacco prevention programs isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. That is our message to states as ACS CAN today releases a report with several other public health groups showing states are shortchanging tobacco prevention and cessation programs despite conclusive evidence that these programs reduce smoking, save lives and save money.
How much are they shortchanging these programs? The annual report, Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 15 Years Later, finds that over the past 15 years, the states have only spent 2.3 percent – $8.9 billion – of the $390.8 billion they have received in tobacco-generated revenue on tobacco prevention programs aimed at improving public health issues posed by tobacco use in our country. And this year (FY 2014), the states will only spend a mere 1.9 percent of the $25 billion they will collect in tobacco revenues on tobacco prevention programs. Those numbers are shameful and putting our kids at risk.
Furthermore, states are falling drastically short of funding levels for tobacco prevention programs recommended by the CDC — providing just 13 percent of the target funding. Only two states – North Dakota and Alaska – are funding tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended levels, and only four other states – Delaware, Wyoming, Hawaii and Oklahoma – provide even half the recommended funding.
Perhaps most disturbing is how these numbers compare to what the tobacco industry is spending. The tobacco companies spend about $8.8 billion every year marketing deadly cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products – or nearly $1 million every hour of every day. When you compare that number to what states are spending on prevention programs, tobacco companies spend more than $18 to encourage people to smoke for every $1 states spend to keep kids from smoking and help smokers quit. This is a losing proposition and unacceptable.
Although the nation has made enormous progress in reducing smoking in the 50 years since the historic Surgeon General’s report linking smoking to disease and death, smoking declines have pretty well flat-lined in recent years. Nearly 19 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke. The use of smokeless and other tobacco products is on the rise, particularly among youth. Our lawmakers have a crucial role to play in ensuring that tobacco companies cannot continue to deceive the American people and addict our children to their deadly products by enacting legislation to support measures that are proven to reduce tobacco use and save lives. In addition to fully funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs, the most effective ways to curb tobacco use are through regularly and significantly increasing tobacco taxes and enacting comprehensive smoke-free laws.
You can be sure ACS CAN and our million-strong volunteer network are diligently working to make sure curbing tobacco use remains a priority with our nation’s lawmakers.