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National Report: Oklahoma Ranks 7th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Oklahoma ranks 7th 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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Oklahoma currently spends nearly $20 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 43.8 percent of the $45 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Oklahoma include:

  • Oklahoma this year will collect $365 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 5.4 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Oklahoma is spending 5 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • The tobacco companies spend $147.2 million a year to market their products in Oklahoma. This is 7 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.

Oklahoma provides dedicated funding for tobacco prevention because of a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2000 that places a portion of the state's annual tobacco settlement payments into a Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund.  The fund generates earnings that are 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 33 percent in 1999 to 17.9 percent in 2011.

Health advocates are urging Oklahoma leaders to continue supporting the state's tobacco prevention program and also to pass a law giving cities the right to require smoke-free workplaces, restaurants and bars.  Current state law blocks cities from doing so.

"Oklahoma's commitment to tobacco prevention is paying off with large declines in youth smoking that will save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "To continue making progress, Oklahoma must sustain its investment in tobacco prevention and allow cities to enact strong smoke-free laws that protect everyone's right to breathe clean air."

In Oklahoma, 17.9 percent of high school students smoke, and 5,000 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 6,200 lives and costs the state $1.2 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 $25.7 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



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