National Report: Kentucky Ranks 38th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Kentucky ranks 38th 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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Kentucky currently spends $2.1 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 3.7 percent of the $57.2 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Kentucky include:

  • Kentucky this year will collect $320.3 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.7 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Kentucky is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • The tobacco companies spend $271.1 million a year to market their products in Kentucky. This is 129 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 15 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.

Kentucky has the highest smoking rates in the country, with 28.3 percent of adults and 24.1 percent of high school students currently smoking.  Kentucky also lacks a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free workplace law and has the 40th lowest cigarette tax in the country at 60 cents per pack, compared to a state average of $1.53 per pack.  Health and business leaders say Kentucky's high smoking rate and smoke-filled workplaces are hurting the state's health and economy, costing the state $1.5 billion a year in health care bills and making it harder to attract new businesses.

To reduce smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, health advocates are calling on Kentucky leaders to pass a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law.

"Tobacco takes a terrible health and economic toll on Kentucky, but state leaders can do something about it by increasing funding for tobacco prevention and passing a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign Tobacco-Free Kids.  "The evidence is clear that reducing tobacco use not only saves lives, it also saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.  It's one of the smartest investments Kentucky can make."

In Kentucky, 24.1 percent of high school students smoke, and 4,200 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 7,800 lives and costs the state $1.5 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 of the report include:

  • The states this year will collect $25 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.9 percent of it – $481.2 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 13 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.

There is more evidence than ever before that tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. Florida, which has a well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention program, reduced its high school smoking rate to just 8.6 percent in 2013, far below the national rate.  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 number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.  Nationally, about 18 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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