BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
The money that the tobacco industry spends on marketing far outpaces the money that states spend on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, according to a new report released Tuesday.
“Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement 17 Years Later” reported that states will receive a collective $25.8 billion in revenue in fiscal year 2016 as a result of the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes.
The states will spend just 1.8 percent, or $468 million, of that revenue to try and stop smoking.
Public health organizations have tracked the numbers since the tobacco industry and 46 states reached what is known as the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in November 1998. (The remaining four states reached separate settlements.)
The settlement exempted Big Tobacco from legal liability for the harm caused by tobacco use. In return, tobacco companies were required to fund anti-smoking campaigns and public health programs. The industry guaranteed a minimum of $206 billion over the first 25 years.
States were expected to use the money for such things as programs to prevent kids from smoking and to address various public health problems that stem from tobacco use. But nothing was written into the agreement requiring the states to do so.
And they haven’t.
This year’s report mirrors previous reports by the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
“Year after year it’s the same situation,” said AHA Chief Executive Nancy Brown. “It’s high time to break this pattern of inaction. Well-funded programs in every state would go a long way in the nation’s fight against tobacco. “
Tobacco companies spend about $9.6 billion annually to market cigarettes and other tobacco products. That breaks down to $20 to market such products for every $1 the states spend on programs to prevent kids from smoking.
Tobacco use kills more than 480,000 Americans and costs the nation about $170 billion in health care spending each year, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
“The tobacco companies are as relentless as ever in marketing their lethal products, so it is critical that the states step up their efforts to protect our kids from tobacco addiction and help smokers quit,” Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a news release. “We know how to win the fight against tobacco, but most states are falling woefully short. These states are putting their children at risk and costing taxpayers billions by refusing to fund tobacco prevention programs that are proven to save lives and money.”
There are some states which are instituting successful smoking cessation initiatives. Florida cut its high school smoking rate to 6.9 percent in 2015, according to the report. In North Dakota, which funds its programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking among high school students in the state dropped from 22.4 percent in 2009 to 11.7 percent in 2013.
Four other states – Alaska, Maine, Oklahoma and Wyoming – provide half the recommended funding.
New Jersey, which ranks last for the second-consecutive year, has allocated no state funds for tobacco prevention programs.