WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, California ranks 23rd 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.
California currently spends $64.8 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 14.7 percent of the $441.9 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for California include:
- California this year will collect $1.5 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4.3 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means California is spending less than 5 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
- California has steadily reduced funding for its tobacco prevention program, from a high of $134.5 million in 2002 to $64.8 million this year, a reduction of 52 percent.
- The tobacco companies spend $583.4 million a year to market their products in California. This is 9 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 15 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.
California has long been a leader in the fight against tobacco, but the state has fallen behind in implementing proven measures to reduce tobacco use. In addition to falling short in funding tobacco prevention programs, California has not increased its cigarette tax since 1999 and now has the 33rd lowest state tax at 87 cents per pack, compared to the state average of $1.53 per pack.
Earlier this year, a study found that from its launch in 1989 to 2008, California's tobacco control program reduced health care costs by $134 billion, far more than the $2.4 billion spent on the program.
"California has been a global leader in the fight against tobacco and demonstrated that tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. But even California's progress is at serious risk unless it significantly increases its tobacco tax and restores funding for programs to reduce tobacco use," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they shortchange tobacco prevention programs."
In California, 13.8 percent of high school students smoke, and 23,500 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 36,600 lives and costs the state $9.1 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 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.9 percent of it – $481.2 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 13 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.
There is more evidence than ever before that tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. Florida, which has a well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention program, reduced its high school smoking rate to just 8.6 percent in 2013, far below the national rate. 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 number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. Nationally, about 18 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