Last fall, ACS CAN Florida staff and volunteers joined public health advocates statewide in celebration when Florida voters overwhelmingly supported updating the state’s smoke-free law to include electronic cigarettes. Now, they’re celebrating again as the law is implemented next week.
Twenty Years of Broken Promises in the Fight Against Tobacco
Two decades have passed since states reached a landmark legal settlement that required major tobacco companies to pay states more than $246 billion over time as compensation for the health costs related to the suffering, death and disease caused by their dangerous products. Each year, ACS CAN and public health partners track state spending of the settlement revenue, as well as other tobacco revenue states bring in from taxes, in the Broken Promises to Our Children report, and we continually find that states only spend a small fraction of their tobacco-generated revenue as intended -- on efforts to prevent youth tobacco use and to help people who smoke quit.
ACS CAN, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and Truth Initiative released the 20th annual Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement report this morning, which shines a light on states’ failure to utilize the settlement funds to save millions of lives with tobacco prevention and cessation programs. This year, states will collect $27.3 billion from the tobacco settlement agreement and tobacco taxes but will only spend 2.4 percent of those dollars on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
That isn’t nearly enough to protect kids from the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing tactics, considering that major cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies invest $9.5 billion annually in marketing their deadly products in the U.S. It’s incredibly disappointing to see states continue to shortchange tobacco prevention and cessation programs that are proven to reduce tobacco rates and save lives, not to mention save money through reduced health care costs.
State legislatures have a responsibility to make curbing tobacco use a priority, and it’s time for lawmakers to step up and keep their promise to protect vulnerable populations from the dangers of tobacco. Cigarette smoking continues to be the #1 preventable cause of death in our country, killing more than 480,000 Americans annually – an inexcusable statistic that needs to be addressed with fully-funded tobacco cessation and prevention programs, comprehensive smoke-free laws and significantly increased tobacco taxes. ACS CAN will continue to urge lawmakers to ensure reducing death and suffering from tobacco remains a priority in every state across the country.