South Carolinians Want Tobacco Settlement Funds Used for Health Issues
COLUMBIA, S.C., Dec. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association of South Carolina (ALASC), in partnership with the American Cancer Society, released the results of a statewide survey designed to determine how South Carolinians believe monies from th
Support of the tobacco farmers was the least popular option, with non- health care needs a close second. Almost half of the respondents said none of the settlement funds should be used to support tobacco farmers.
``The people of South Carolina obviously recognize that tobacco use has enormous health and economic consequences. Using this money to reduce the hundreds of millions spent annually on preventable diseases is a smart long- term investment,'' stated James Weber, Executive Director, ALASC.
The release of this survey comes at a time when legislators are considering how best to use the more than $2.3 billion that tobacco companies will pay the state over the next twenty-five years as part of a class action settlement.
ALASC has joined with more than thirty organizations to ensure that lawmakers invest the majority of the money in health care with a large portion supporting a comprehensive tobacco control program to prevent future generations from becoming casualties of tobacco. Tobacco-related health problems result in an estimated $760 million in public and private expenditures annually in South Carolina. South Carolina's Medicaid payments directly related to tobacco averages about $140 million a year.
The 1999 South Carolina State Survey is compatible with a nationwide poll that showed 84% of respondents favored spending tobacco settlement money to reduce tobacco use among kids.
Respondents were asked how much of the money, if any, from the tobacco settlement should be spent on ten social programs options. The ten options included: help adults who wish to stop smoking or chewing tobacco; support scientific research on tobacco and health; provide medical and dental insurance for uninsured children; prevent children from starting smoking; support community development and community projects; support tobacco farmers; support hospitals; help pay Medicaid costs for those in poverty; provide health education in schools; pay for non-health needs.
The South Carolina State Survey is a cost-shared random probability survey of citizens age eighteen and older living in South Carolina that is conducted biannually by the University of South Carolina's Institute of Public Affairs.