Report: Arkansas 7th in tobacco prevention funding

A report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids praised Arkansas and a few other states for their tobacco prevention programs but said most states “spend only a miniscule portion” of tobacco settlement proceeds to reduce tobacco use.

The report, released Monday (Dec. 9), was critical of how states spend money based upon what is recommended by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

“States are falling far short of recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” noted the “Broken Promises to Our Children” report. “The $481.2 million the states have budgeted this year amounts to just 13 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends for all the states combined. It would take less than 15 percent of total state tobacco revenues to fund tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended amounts in every state.”

Other groups supported the report are the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

A November 1998 settlement between several state Attorney Generals and major U.S. tobacco companies created a fund to make annual payments to the states for tobacco prevention programs, to help pay for the effects of tobacco use and for other purposes. The “Broken Promises” report estimates that $246 billion has been paid to the states since 1998.

According to the report, tobacco use is the top cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people. Nationally, about 18% of adults and 18.1% of high school students smoke. The report also noted that cigarette smoking costs the nation $193 billion a year in economic losses, including $96 billion in health care costs and $97 billion in productivity losses, according to the CDC. Every day, tobacco kills 1,200 more Americans, and another 3,000 kids try their first cigarette.

Report authors said the tobacco settlement money is not being used enough in efforts to reduce the percentage of tobacco use.

“The states this year will collect $25 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.9 percent of it – $481.2 million – on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use,” noted the report. “The states have failed to reverse deep cuts to tobacco prevention and cessation programs that have undermined the nation’s efforts to reduce tobacco use.”

The report did note that smoking patterns have dramatically changed in the past 50 years, with the adult smoking rate falling from 42.4% in 1965 to 18% in 2012. The high school smoking rate has declined by about half to 18.1% in 2012.

“Despite this progress, tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. Tobacco use kills 443,000 Americans every year – more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined,” according to the report.

The report called on states to further reduce smoking by increasing funding for tobacco cessation programs, boost tobacco taxes and enact more stringent smoke-free laws.

Arkansas was praised for its use of the proceeds but encouraged to do more.

"Arkansas has made a solid commitment and is one of the top 10 states this year when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a press release about the report. "To continue reducing tobacco use, it is critical that Arkansas's leaders build on this commitment and increase funding to the CDC's recommended amount. Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

The report including the following Arkansas statistics.
• In Arkansas, 18.2% of high school students smoke, and 2,500 more kids become regular smokers each year.

• Tobacco annually claims 4,900 lives and costs the state $812 million in health care bills.

• Arkansas spends about $17.5 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 48% of the $36.4 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

• Arkansas this year will collect $281 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 6.2% of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Arkansas is spending less than 7 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

• The tobacco companies spend $107.4 million a year to market their products in Arkansas. This is 6 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

Following is the list of top 10 states based on the percentage of tobacco settlement money used for tobacco prevention programs.
1. North Dakota
2014 funding: $9.5 million
% toward prevention programs: 102.3%

2. Alaska
2014 funding: $10.1 million
% toward prevention programs: 94.8%

3. Delaware
2014 funding: $8.3 million
% toward prevention programs: 59.9%

4. Wyoming
2014 funding: $5.1 million
% toward prevention programs: 56.7%

5. Hawaii
2014 funding: $7.9 million
% toward prevention programs: 51.7%

6. Oklahoma
2014 funding: $22.7 million
% toward prevention programs: 50.5%

7. Arkansas
2014 funding: $17.5 million
% toward prevention programs: 48%

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8. Colorado
2014 funding: $26 million
% toward prevention programs: 47.8%

9. Maine
2014 funding: $8.1 million
% toward prevention programs: 43.6%

10. Montana
2014 funding: $5.4 million
% toward prevention programs: 43.6%

Link here for the ranking of all states.

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