WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Florida ranks 15th 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.
Florida currently spends $65.6 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 31.1 percent of the $210.9 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Florida include:
Florida this year will collect $1.6 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4.2 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.
The tobacco companies spend $562.6 million a year to market their products in Florida. 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.
In recent years, Florida has taken significant action to reduce tobacco use. In 2006, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring the state to spend 15 percent of its annual tobacco settlement revenue on tobacco prevention programs. This has allowed the state to conduct a well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention program. In 2009, Florida increased its cigarette tax by $1 per pack.
As a result, Florida recently reported that it reduced its high school smoking rate to just 8.6 percent in 2013, far below the national rate.
"Florida's strong 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. "But Florida's fight against tobacco isn't over. To continue making progress, Florida must sustain its investment in tobacco prevention as required by the state Constitution and further increase the state tobacco tax."
In Florida, 8.6 percent of high school students smoke, and 14,500 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 28,600 lives and costs the state $6.3 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.
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.