States Not Using Tobacco Settlement To Fund Prevention
Only a fraction of the money that states receive from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes is being used to prevent smoking, according to a report released on Wednesday by several advocacy groups, the AP/Boston Globe reports.
The report, titled "A Broken Promise to Our Children," was released by Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Lung Association. The report found that states in total have allocated $551 million for tobacco-use prevention programs in fiscal year 2006, although CDC recommends $1.6 billion in spending.
Meanwhile, according to the report, the tobacco industry spends $15.4 billion to market tobacco products -- nearly 28 times the amount states spend on prevention. Maine, Colorado, Delaware and Mississippi are the only states that spend at least the minimum levels recommended by CDC, according to the report.
Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, D.C., spend no state funds on prevention programs, while 30 other states spend less than half of the recommended amount.
CDC's recommended minimums for individual states range from $7.3 million to more than $165 million, based on population size and need.
The report said that rather than funding smoking prevention efforts, states often use tobacco-related funds to pay off budget shortfalls or fund capital campaigns and construction projects. Tobacco industry officials said states should use funds from the $206 billion settlement for their intended purpose.
John Singleton, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco's director of communications, said, "There does seem to be something of a disconnect between how (states) are spending the money and what they said they needed it for."
Advocates said ballot initiatives could help address the issue by forcing states to spend tobacco-related funds on prevention programs.
Colorado passed such a measure in 2004 and "showed the biggest progress in this year's report," the AP/Globe reports.
According to Vince Wilmore, spokesperson for TFK, Colorado's prevention spending increased from $4.3 million in the 2005 budget year to $27 million. The CDC recommended minimum for Colorado is $24.6 million (Katz, AP/Boston Globe, 11/30).
The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.