WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Maine ranks 5th 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. Maine is spending $7.8 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is just 49.1 percent of the $15.9 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 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 Maine, 11.2 percent of high school students still smoke, and 700 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco use claims 2,400 Maine lives and costs the state $811 million in health care bills annually.
Other key findings in the report include:
- Maine will collect $196.7 million in revenue this year from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only 4 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
- Tobacco companies spend over $42 million each year to market their deadly and addictive products in Maine – more than 5 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.
The report spotlights the need for stronger tobacco prevention efforts in Maine. Maine has taken strong steps to reduce tobacco use with a relatively high cigarette tax ($2 per pack), a strong smoke-free workplace law and its tobacco prevention and cessation program. The state reduced its high school smoking rate by a dramatic 71 percent from 1997 to 2015 (from 39.2 percent to 11.2 percent). However, Maine has cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by more than a quarter in recent years, down from $10.8 million in 2010. In addition to increasing funding for tobacco prevention, health advocates are urging Maine leaders to raise the legal sale age for tobacco products to 21.
"Because of the tremendous progress our country – and states like Maine – have made in reducing smoking, it is within our reach to win the fight against tobacco and make the next generation tobacco-free," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "But Maine needs to step up its efforts to protect kids by increasing tobacco prevention funding and raising the tobacco age to 21."
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. 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. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, the state of Washington saved more than $5 in health care costs for every $1 spent on the program.
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