National Report: California Ranks 22nd in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- California ranks 22nd 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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California currently spends $62.1 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 14.1 percent of the $441.9 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for California include:

  • California this year will collect $1.6 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 3.8 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means California is spending less than four cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • California has steadily reduced funding for its tobacco prevention program, from a high of $134.5 million in 2002 to $62.1 million this year, a reduction of 54 percent.
  • The tobacco companies spend $535.7 million a year to market their products in California. This is 9 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Broken Promise 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.

California has long been a leader in the fight against tobacco, but the state's efforts have slipped in recent years.  In addition to falling short in funding tobacco prevention programs, California has not increased its cigarette tax since 1999 and now has the 33rd lowest state tax at 87 cents per pack, compared to the state average of $1.48 per pack.  In June, California voters narrowly defeated a ballot initiative to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack and use some of the revenue to increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.  Tobacco companies spent $47 million to defeat the initiative.

"California has been a national and global pioneer in the fight against tobacco.  But the state's progress is at serious risk unless it significantly increases its tobacco tax and restores funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "California knows from experience that tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

In California, 13.8 percent of high school students smoke, and 34,400 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 36,600 lives and costs the state $9.1 billion in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings 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. A 2008 study found that California's tobacco control program had an even greater return on investment of nearly 50:1 in its first 15 years.

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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