WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Washington ranks 39th 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.
Washington is spending $2.3 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is just 3.6 percent of the $63.6 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While this total is higher than the $640,500 spent last year, it is far short of the $27.2 million Washington provided as recently as 2009, when the state had one of the nation's strongest tobacco prevention programs.
Today's 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 Washington, 7.9 percent of high school students still smoke, and 2,800 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco use claims 8,300 Washington lives and costs the state $2.8 billion in health care bills annually.
Other key findings in the report include:
- Washington will collect $595.9 million in revenue this year from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only less than 1 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
- Tobacco companies spend over $88 million each year to market their deadly and addictive products in Washington – 38 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.
Washington has been a leader in fighting tobacco with a high cigarette tax ($3.025 per pack) and a strong, statewide smoke-free law. However, Washington has drastically reduced its tobacco prevention program despite its role in reducing smoking and evidence that the program saved $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent. In addition to restoring funding for tobacco prevention, health advocates are urging Washington lawmakers to increase the tobacco sale age to 21.
"While Washington has made progress in reducing youth smoking, the state can achieve even more by restoring funding for tobacco prevention programs that are proven to save lives and health care dollars," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Washington can become a leader again in fighting tobacco by raising the tobacco sale age to 21 and increasing funding for tobacco prevention."
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. For example, 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.
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