National Report: Texas Ranks 41st in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Texas ranks 41st 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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Texas currently spends $6.5 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 2.4 percent of the $266.3 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Texas include:

  • Texas this year will collect $1.8 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.4 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Texas is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • The tobacco companies spend $538.5 million a year to market their products in Texas. This is 83 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 increasing funding for tobacco prevention, health advocates are calling on Texas leaders to enact a strong, statewide law that applies to all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.  The Legislature came close to enacting such a law in 2011 and is expected to consider the legislation again during its 2013 session.

"Texas is falling short when it comes to preventing kids from smoking and protecting all workers and families from harmful secondhand smoke," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "We urge Texas to join the growing number of states that have enacted strong smoke-free laws and protect everyone's right to breathe clean air.  By reducing smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, Texas can save lives and save money by cutting tobacco-related health care costs." 

In Texas, 17.4 percent of high school students smoke, and 29,100 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 24,500 lives and costs the state $5.8 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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