WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Colorado ranks 8th 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.
Colorado currently spends $22.6 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 41.5 percent of the $54.4 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Colorado include:
- Colorado this year will collect $295 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 7.6 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs (the state's program is funded entirely through tobacco tax revenues based on a 2004 ballot initiative approved by voters). This means Colorado is spending less than 8 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
- In the past year, Colorado has increased funding for tobacco prevention from $6.5 million to $22.6 million. Colorado has restored the tobacco prevention funding required by the 2004 ballot initiative after declaring a fiscal emergency and diverting some of the funds last year.
- The tobacco companies spend $113.1 million a year to market their products in Colorado. This is 5 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.
Health advocates are calling on Colorado to continue its commitment to tobacco prevention and also increase the state cigarette tax, which at 84 cents per pack currently ranks 34th in the nation and is well below the state average of $1.48 per pack.
"Colorado has taken an important step forward this year by restoring funding for tobacco prevention programs, but it can make even greater progress by significantly increasing the cigarette tax and investing more in tobacco prevention," 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."
In Colorado, 15.7 percent of high school students smoke, and 5,300 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 4,300 lives and costs the state $1.3 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.
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