WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Florida ranks 15th in the country 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. Florida is spending $67.7 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 34.9 percent of the $194.2 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report cites Florida as an example for other states because it has reduced high school smoking to a record low 6.9 percent with a long-running and well-funded tobacco prevention program. Florida has cut its high school smoking rate by 75 percent since 1998, when the rate was 27.4 percent.
The report warns that Florida must continue its tobacco prevention efforts because tobacco companies spend an estimated $585.8 million to market their deadly and addictive products in the state each year. That means tobacco companies spend $9 to promote tobacco use for every $1 Florida spends to prevent it.
Other key findings for Florida include:
- Florida will collect $1.6 billion this year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only 4.3 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.
- Despite Florida's progress, 10,300 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco claims 32,300 lives and costs the state $8.6 billion in health care bills annually.
The report, titled "Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 17 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, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights and Truth Initiative.
The report assesses whether the states have kept their promise to use a significant portion of their settlement funds – estimated to total $246 billion over the first 25 years – to fight tobacco use. The states also collect billions of dollars more each year from tobacco taxes.
In 2006, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring the state to spend 15 percent of its annual tobacco settlement revenue on tobacco prevention programs. The amendment led to the Tobacco-Free Florida program, which includes media campaigns, community programs such as the youth-led Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) group and help for smokers trying to quit.
In addition to continued funding for tobacco prevention programs, health advocates are also calling on Florida leaders to increase the state's cigarette tax by $1 per pack. Cigarette tax increases are proven to reduce smoking, especially among kids.
"Florida's remarkable progress shows that we know how to win the fight against tobacco. To further drive down smoking rates, Florida should significantly increase its cigarette tax and continue funding tobacco prevention programs that are proven to save lives and money," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "The tobacco companies are as relentless as ever in marketing their lethal products, so it is critical that Florida continue its efforts to protect kids from tobacco addiction and help smokers quit."
Nationally, the report finds that:
- Most states fail to sufficiently fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The states will collect $25.8 billion this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend less than two percent of it ($468 million) on tobacco prevention programs.
- The $468 million the states have budgeted for tobacco prevention is a small fraction of the $3.3 billion the CDC recommends. Only one state – North Dakota – is funding tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended levels.
Insufficient prevention funding makes it difficult for states to combat the pervasive marketing of Big Tobacco. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.6 billion a year – more than one million dollars every hour – to market their products, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Industry tactics that entice kids include:
- Widespread advertising, prime product placement and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
- Ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone.
- Candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products such as small cigars and electronic cigarettes. E-cigarette companies have drastically ramped up their marketing efforts in recent years as well. Recent data show that youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed, and that high school boys now smoke cigars at about the same rate as cigarettes.
Tobacco use kills more than 480,000 Americans and costs the nation about $170 billion in health care expenses each year.
The full report and state-specific information can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids