National Report: Washington Ranks 37th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Dec 06, 2012, 10:56 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Washington ranks 37th 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.


Washington last year virtually eliminated funding for its nationally recognized tobacco prevention and cessation program.  This year, it is providing just $2.5 million, which is 3.7 percent of the $67.3 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Washington include:

  • Washington this year will collect $571 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 Washington is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • The $2.5 million Washington is spending this year is a small increase from the $750,000 spent last year, but it is still a 91 percent cut from the $27.2 million spent in 2009.
  • The tobacco companies spend $80.8 million a year to market their products in Washington. This is 32 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 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.

Before slashing funding for its program, Washington was a national leader in the fight against tobacco with a high tobacco tax, a statewide smoke-free law and effective programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.  As a result, Washington reduced adult smoking by one-third and youth smoking by half.

Washington's tobacco prevention program has saved lives and saved money.  The state Department of Health estimated the program has helped prevent 13,000 premature deaths.  A recent study found that, over its first 10 years, the program saved $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every one dollar spent.  Over the 10-year period, the program prevented nearly 36,000 hospitalizations, saving $1.5 billion compared to $260 million spent.

"It is truly penny-wise and pound-foolish for Washington to shortchange tobacco prevention programs that are proven to save lives and save money," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "Unless Washington leaders act quickly to restore funding for tobacco prevention, the state will pay a high price with more kids smoking, more lives lost to tobacco and higher health care costs.  Washington knows from its own experience that investing in tobacco prevention is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do."

In Washington, 12.7 percent of high school students smoke, and 7,100 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 7,600 lives and costs the state $2 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 $25.7 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it – $459.5 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 12.4 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.

As the nation implements health care reform, the report warns that states are missing a golden opportunity to reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year in the U.S.  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 leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people each year.  Nationally, 19 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

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids