WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Massachusetts ranks 36th 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.
Massachusetts currently spends $4 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 4.4 percent of the $90 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Massachusetts include:
- Massachusetts this year will collect $944.8 million 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 Massachusetts is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
- The tobacco companies spend $134.7 million a year to market their products in Massachusetts. This is 34 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.
Massachusetts took significant action to reduce tobacco use this year by increasing the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, as well as the tax on other tobacco products. However, Massachusetts did not provide additional funding for its tobacco prevention, which was one of the nation's best-funded and most successful programs before it was decimated by budget cuts in recent years.
"By raising the tobacco tax, Massachusetts has taken strong action to prevent kids from smoking and save lives. To continue making progress, the state also needs to invest more in its underfunded tobacco prevention program," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they shortchange tobacco prevention programs."
In Massachusetts, 14 percent of high school students smoke, and 4,600 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 9,000 lives and costs the state $3.5 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