WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Georgia ranks 43rd 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.
Georgia currently spends $750,000 a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 0.6 percent of the $116.5 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Georgia include:
- Georgia this year will collect $365 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.2 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Georgia is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
- Since 2009, Georgia has cut funding for its tobacco prevention program by two-thirds, from $2.3 million to $750,000.
- The tobacco companies spend $291 million a year to market their products in Georgia. This is 388 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.
In addition to its lack of funding for tobacco prevention programs, Georgia's cigarette tax is only 37 cents per pack, which is 48th in the nation and well below the state average of $1.48 per pack. Health advocates are calling on Georgia leaders to significantly increase the cigarette tax and increase funding for tobacco prevention programs.
"Georgia again is one of the most disappointing states when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "To reduce tobacco use, it is critical that Georgia raise its tobacco tax and increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. By investing in tobacco prevention, Georgia can save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."
In Georgia, 17 percent of high school students smoke, and 10,600 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 10,500 lives and costs the state $2.3 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