WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Oklahoma ranks 3rd nationwide in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a report released today by a coalition of public health organizations. Oklahoma is spending $23.5 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 55.6 percent of the $42.3 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report challenges states to do more to fight tobacco use – the nation's No. 1 cause of preventable death – and help make the next generation tobacco-free. In Oklahoma, 14.6 percent of high school students still smoke, and 2,400 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco use claims 7,500 Oklahoma lives and costs the state $1.6 billion in health care bills annually.
Other key findings in the report include:
- Oklahoma will collect $396.6 million in revenue this year from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes and will spend 5.9 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
- Tobacco companies spend $168 million each year to market their deadly and addictive products in Oklahoma – 7 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.
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.
Oklahoma has made steady progress in the fight against tobacco, thanks largely to a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2000 that provides dedicated funding for tobacco prevention. The amendment requires that a portion of the state's annual tobacco settlement payments go into a Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund, with the earnings used to finance tobacco prevention and other programs to improve health. Oklahoma's tobacco prevention program has helped reduce the state's high school smoking rate from 23.4 percent in 2007 to 14.6 percent in 2015.
State legislators missed an opportunity to further reduce tobacco use when the Oklahoma House rejected a proposed $1.50-per-pack increase in the state tobacco tax earlier this year. Health advocates are urging legislators to again consider a tobacco tax increase in 2017.
"Oklahoma must keep up its impressive efforts to protect our kids from tobacco addiction and help smokers quit," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Because of the tremendous progress our country has made in reducing smoking, it is within our reach to win the fight against tobacco and make the next generation tobacco-free. Oklahoma leaders can do even more to protect kids from tobacco by approving a large increase in the tobacco tax."
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. Only two states – North Dakota and Alaska – fund tobacco prevention programs 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