National Report: West Virginia Ranks 19th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- West Virginia ranks 19th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

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West Virginia currently spends $5.7 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 20.5 percent of the $27.8 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for West Virginia include:

  • West Virginia this year will collect $231 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 2.5 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means West Virginia is spending less than three cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • The tobacco companies spend $110.6 million a year to market their products in West Virginia. This is 19 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.

West Virginia has the second highest adult smoking rate in the nation at 28.6 percent. To address this serious problem, health advocates are urging state leaders to significantly increase the cigarette tax and provide more funding for tobacco prevention.

"With its high smoking rate, it is disappointing that West Virginia is not making a greater investment in programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.  States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they fail to properly fund tobacco prevention programs."

In West Virginia, 19.1 percent of high school students smoke, and 2,600 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 3,800 lives and costs the state $690 million in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings of the report include:

  • The states this year will collect $25.7 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it – $459.5 million – on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • States are falling woefully short of the CDC's recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs.  Altogether, the states have budgeted just 12.4 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.
  • Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

As the nation implements health care reform, the report warns that states are missing a golden opportunity to reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year in the U.S.  One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people each year.  Nationally, 19 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students smoke.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids



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