Advocates want $42.4 million to battle teen smoking
A coalition of anti-smoking groups yesterday prodded Gov. Paul Patton to earmark $42.4 million in tobacco-settlement money to fight teen-age smoking. Using those dollars to prevent and stop smoking by young people in Kentucky would be "the best investment
The money should go to anti-smoking efforts in equal installments of $21.2 million for two years, Brackett said.
Kentucky is expecting more than $350 million from the settlement between cigarette manufacturers and the states.
Patton said Tuesday that he wants to use half of the money for farmers, 25 percent for health care and 25 percent for early childhood development. "It was a disappointment" because it didn't stipulate a dollar amount for anti-smoking efforts aimed at children, Brackett said.
Mark Pfeiffer, Patton's spokesman, said yesterday that the 25 percent was a "proper" amount for child development. How much would go to smoking prevention "still has to be worked out," Pfeiffer said.
Brackett said she believed the tobacco settlement was designed to help states like Kentucky deal with the health consequences of smoking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky has the highest percentage of adults who smoke -- 30.8. The state also has the highest percentage of teens who say they've smoked at least once in the past month -- 47.
The governor wants the prevention money to come from the 50 percent of the settlement that would go to farmers. Brackett said that has the potential of forcing anti-smoking advocates and tobacco farmers to battle for dollars.
Rod Kuegel, president of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative, said last night that farmers should get at least half of the settlement money, and that $42.4 million should be set aside for prevention efforts aimed at teens and other young smokers.