Report Shows Most States Falling Short in Using Tobacco Settlement Funds for Tobacco Prevention
WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Three years after
reaching $246 billion in legal settlements with the tobacco
industry, most states are failing to keep their promise to use a
significant portion of their settlement proceeds to fund tobacco
The report, titled "Show Us the Money: An Update on the States'
Allocation of the Tobacco Settlement Dollars," was released by the
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association,
American Cancer Society and American Lung Association.
"Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is one
of the smartest and most fiscally responsible investments that
governors and state legislators across the country can make," the
report concludes, calling efforts to cut tobacco prevention
"penny-wise and pound-foolish." The report points out that
California and Massachusetts, with the most established tobacco
prevention programs, are saving as much as $3 in smoking-
caused health care costs for every dollar spent on tobacco
"We have conclusive evidence that tobacco prevention works.
States that have implemented such programs have dramatically cut
smoking among both children and adults, reduced the incidence of
lung cancer and heart disease, and saved millions of dollars in
health care costs," said William V. Corr, executive vice president
of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "All of these benefits will
be lost if the states do not live up to their promise to fund
tobacco prevention programs."
The report found that only five states Arizona, Maine,
Massachusetts, Mississippi and Minnesota currently fund tobacco
prevention programs at the minimum levels recommended by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the majority
of states fund tobacco prevention at less than half the CDC
minimum. Public health groups have advocated that states allocate
settlement funds for tobacco prevention according to
CDC guidelines (approximately 20 to 25 percent of each state's
Despite the small amounts committed to tobacco prevention, some
states are using settlement funds, including funds previously
committed to tobacco prevention, to balance their budgets,
according to the report.
Florida, for example, cut funding for its highly successful
program by 20 percent in December despite reducing smoking by 47
percent among middle school students and 30 percent among high
school students in just three years. In Tennessee, the Legislature
voted to use all the state's settlement money received to date to
balance the budget for just one year. Other states, including
Montana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Arizona, have also cut allocations
they had previously committed to tobacco prevention.
"It is bad enough that so few states have kept their promise to
use their tobacco settlement dollars to address the terrible toll
of tobacco," said M. Cass Wheeler, CEO of the American Heart
Association. "It would be even more tragic for states to reduce
this commitment just as we are beginning to make progress in
reducing smoking and the deadly diseases, including cardiovascular
disease, that it causes."
The report details the powerful evidence from the few states
with comprehensive tobacco prevention programs that these programs
work to reduce smoking, save lives and reduce smoking-caused health
In addition to Florida's results, Maine has cut smoking by 36
percent among high school students in three years; Oregon has cut
smoking rates among eleventh graders by 41 percent since 1996; and
Mississippi has cut smoking by 25 percent among public high school
students since starting its program in 1999. Recent studies
show that California, which started the nation's oldest tobacco
prevention program in 1989, has saved tens of thousands of lives by
reducing smoking-caused birth complications, heart disease, strokes
and lung cancer.
The report also describes the growing evidence that cutting
funding for tobacco prevention programs can quickly stall or
reverse their progress. California's progress in reducing smoking
rates stopped for a period in the mid-1990s after funding for
tobacco prevention was cut and resumed after funding was partially
Florida's most recent results indicate that cuts to its program
are already reducing its effectiveness among middle school
"The states should not squander this opportunity. Comprehensive
tobacco prevention programs are an excellent investment," said John
L. Kirkwood, CEO of the American Lung Association. "With a modest
commitment, the entire nation can replicate the dramatic reduction
in youth smoking that comprehensive programs deliver."
"Tobacco prevention programs are a vaccine that can protect our
kids from tobacco addiction, disease and death. Now that this
vaccine has been proven to work, we have an obligation to provide
it every year to every child in every state," said John R. Seffrin,
Ph.D., CEO of the American Cancer Society.
Specific results from the report show:
-- Only five states are funding tobacco prevention programs at
the minimum levels recommended by the CDC.
-- Only 19 states (including the five above) have committed even
50 percent of the minimum funding level
recommended by the CDC.
-- Sixteen states have committed between 25 and 50 percent of
the minimum amount recommended by the
-- Twelve states have committed less than 25 percent of the
minimum amount recommended by the CDC.
-- Three states Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee and
the District of Columbia have committed
none of their settlement money or other major funding source, such
as a tobacco tax, to tobacco prevention.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the
United States, killing more than 400,000 Americans
every year. The annual cost of treating tobacco-related disease
exceeds $89 billion. About 90 percent of current smokers took up
the habit at or before age 18. Every day, 5,000 kids try their
first cigarette. Another 2,000 kids become regular, daily smokers,
one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result.
More information, including the full report and state-specific
information, can be obtained on the Internet at
www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements. A chart ranking each
of the states based on their funding for tobacco prevention is