States With High Cancer Rates Redirecting Tobacco Settlement Money, Study Finds
Many states with the highest lung cancer rates are using tobacco settlement funds intended for disease prevention on unrelated programs, according to a study released last week by the not-for-profit advocacy groups Cancer Care and The CHEST Foundation, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. In 2001, the 10 states with the highest incidence of lung cancer received an average of $29 per person from the national tobacco settlement but spent an average of $2 per person on tobacco-control programs. Kentucky, the state with the highest lung cancer rates, spent less than $1 a person. The CDC recommends that states spend an average of $7.47 per person on tobacco control. According to the AP/Times, budget deficits have led some states to use the settlement funds to fill spending gaps. California, for example, used expected future settlement receipts of $4.5 billion to help decrease the state's $23.6 billion deficit. "The tobacco settlement securitization allows us to keep from making further, deeper cuts in health programs and social services programs," Anita Gore, spokesperson for the California finance department, said. But Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore (D), one of the architects of the settlement, said, "[States that redirect settlement funds from health programs] think that the money just fell out of heaven, and, 'OK, I have a deficit,' or 'I have a political whim' or 'I need to build a highway,'" adding, "I call it moral treason. I call it stupid. It's so shortsighted" (Pritchard, AP/Contra Costa Times, 11/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.