Tobacco money less than expected
Hawaii has received less tobacco settlement money than expected, causing officials and others to worry that future health prevention efforts may be jeopardized.
State Department of Health director Bruce Anderson recently told legislators the $12.9 million payment the state received in January was about 13 percent less than expected. The state expects to receive about $27 million in April, bringing the total for fiscal 2000-01 to nearly $40 million.
State officials initially had anticipated $45.4 million.
Other states also are reported to be receiving less money than expected because of a drop in cigarette shipments.
"We may or may not see a reduction in funding," Anderson said, adding, "We may not have any money in five years."
Dr. Virginia Pressler, deputy director of health resources administration, told lawmakers the state â€œwonâ€™t be getting (tobacco settlement money) for 25 years, thatâ€™s for sure.â€
Hawaii was among 46 states that were part of a $206 billion agreement with tobacco companies last year, settling claims for medical spending on sick smokers.
Hawaii is supposed to receive its estimated $1.3 billion share over the next 25 years. A bill enacted last year designated 25 percent for a tobacco prevention and control trust fund for programs targeting smoking and tobacco use, and 40 percent for an emergency fund.
As much as 10 percent will go to health insurance for needy children, and the remaining 25 percent is to go to the department for health promotion and disease prevention.
Anderson said he does not know yet what the impact of the reduction in settlement money would be for Hawaii.
Department officials had hoped to use the departmentâ€™s share of the settlement money for a comprehensive health promotion and disease prevention program.
However, Gov. Ben Caye-tano wants to use part of the departmentâ€™s share to pay for existing prevention programs such as the $5.7 million Healthy Start program, sending the money already supporting it to the general treasury.
Some lawmakers said they intended for the tobacco settlement money to be used solely to start new programs rather than supplant existing ones, the bill enacted last year does not specifically prohibit that use.