Where's That Tobacco Money Going?
The first installments of the $246 billion tobacco settlement are arriving in state capitals. In 2000, the states are due to get $6.4 billion.
But National Conference of State Legislatures recently figured that only 8 percent of the money is earmarked for anti-smoking programs.
A good portion is slated for "health care," but much is also going into totally unrelated programs like roads, schools and teenage boot camps.
The Centers for Disease Control suggested 20 percent to 25 percent be spent on prevention; but few states are meeting that goal.
"To the dismay of anti-smoking advocates who pushed for the deal," says Ellen Goodman, "most legislators seem to regard the settlement like any other pot of funds. It is found money, no strings attached."
She points out that under the terms of the settlement, if the rate of smoking decreases, so does the payment. Thus, if legislators become hooked on tobacco money, "At what point does a state have a motive for keeping the smoking rolls up?"