WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For the fourth straight year, North Dakota ranks 1st in the country in funding programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations. North Dakota is spending $9.9 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, compared with the $9.8 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). North Dakota is one of just two states, along with Alaska, that currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC standard.
Other key findings in the report include:
- North Dakota will collect $66.8 million in revenue this year from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes and will spend 14.8 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
- Tobacco companies spend $37 million each year to market their deadly and addictive products in North Dakota – almost 4 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year on marketing – more than $1 million every hour.
North Dakota has funded its tobacco prevention program at or near the CDC-recommended level since Fiscal Year 2010 as a result of a voter-approved ballot measure requiring such funding. From 2009 to 2015, smoking among North Dakota's high school students fell by nearly half, from 22.4 percent to 11.7 percent.
However, North Dakota's progress is at risk under Governor Jack Dalrymple's recently released budget, which would eliminate the state's Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy and divert money from prevention and cessation programs. Health advocates are urging the Legislature to follow the will of the voters, preserve the existing program that has proven so successful and maintain current funding for these life-saving efforts.
"Thanks to its investment in tobacco prevention, North Dakota is making great strides in protecting kids from tobacco addiction. It makes no sense to tamper with this very successful initiative that is saving lives and health care dollars," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "North Dakota needs to keep doing everything it can to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. And that means preserving the program that has helped the state achieve such impressive results in recent years."
While North Dakota has made great progress, tobacco is still the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the state, claiming about 1,000 lives and costing the state $326 million a year in health care expenses.
Today's report, titled "Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 18 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.
Nationwide, the U.S. has cut smoking rates to record lows – 15.1 percent among adults and 10.8 percent among high school students in 2015. If recent progress in reducing adult smoking continues, the U.S. could eliminate smoking by around 2035, according to a recent analysis in The New England Journal of Medicine.
By funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the CDC's recommended levels, the states can help achieve this goal. But today's report finds most states are falling far short:
- The states will collect $26.6 billion this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend less than 2 percent of it ($491.6 million) on tobacco prevention programs.
- The $491.6 million that the states have budgeted for tobacco prevention is a small fraction of the $3.3 billion the CDC recommends. In addition to North Dakota, only Alaska funds its tobacco prevention program at CDC-recommended levels.
- States with well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention programs have seen remarkable progress. Florida, with one of the longest-running programs, reduced its high school smoking rate to 5.2 percent this year, one of the lowest rates ever reported by any state. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, the state of Washington saved more than $5 in health care costs for every $1 spent on the program.
Each year in the U.S., tobacco use kills more than 480,000 people and costs the nation at least $170 billion in health care expenses.
The report and state-specific information can be found at tfk.org/statereport.
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids