Only 5% of Tobacco Settlement Money Spent on Anti-Smoking Efforts
States have allocated only 5% of the funds received from the 1998 national tobacco settlement for smoking prevention and cessation programs, a figure well below levels recommended by the CDC, according to a report released Saturday by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The New York Times reports that state attorneys general who negotiated the $205 billion settlement with the nation's major tobacco companies predicted states would use a "large part" of the funds for anti-tobacco programs (Janofsky, New York Times, 8/11). In addition, the CDC has said that states must spend at least 20% of the settlement on prevention programs to reduce future tobacco-related health care expenses. However, the NCSL report found that the 46 states in the settlement -- in addition to Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi and Texas, which negotiated their own deals worth $40 million -- spent only 5% of the $21 billion they received from FY 2000 to FY 2002 on tobacco-related programs. States spent 36.1% of the funds on health care, 26% to "bolster endowments or state budget reserves," 9.5% on schools and youth programs, 4.5% for research and 3.2% to assist tobacco farmers and "communities affected by the reduced quotas from tobacco companies" (AP/Baltimore Sun, 8/11). The Times reports that the slowing economy and declining tax revenues have prompted many states to use the settlement funds for other budget priorities. "It's moral treason to me," Michael Moore, the Mississippi attorney general who headed the legal campaign against the tobacco industry, said, adding, "We got all this money, then legislatures and governors who were not even in this fight act like the money fell out of heaven and spend it on the political whim of the day" (New York Times, 8/11).