STATES SPEND ANTI-SMOKING MONEY ON EVERYTHING BUT SMOKING
January 11, 2008
States are spending their tobacco settlement money on everything from building schools to cutting taxes -- everything, that is, but smoking prevention, says USA Today.
Two reports from public health advocacy groups underscore just how irresponsible some states have been:
- Last year, four states -- Ohio, Michigan, Rhode Island and West Virginia -- sold off the rights to all or part of future settlement payments in exchange for a quick infusion of cash now, according to a report by the American Lung Association.
- Ohio got about $5 billion in its deal, but it gave up what some projected would be $10 billion over the next 24 years.
- None of the $5 billion will go for smoking prevention -- even though one of every five Ohio teens still smokes, according to the most recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- This fiscal year, 30 states and Washington, D.C., are spending less than half of the minimum recommended by the CDC for anti-tobacco programs.
- Connecticut appropriated no money at all for smoking prevention, according to a report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, even though the state received and spent $1 billion in settlements.
Overall, by diverting the settlement money, states have failed to counter Big Tobacco's aggressive marketing -- just the opposite of what the settlements envisioned. The industry spent $13.4 billion in marketing in 2005, according to the Federal Trade Commission. That's $25 for every $1 the states spent on smoking prevention.
Source: Editorial, "Our view on public health: States spend anti-smoking money on everything but," USA Today, January 11, 2008.
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