Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 21:21 EDT

National Report: Florida Ranks 13th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

November 30, 2011

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Florida ranks 13th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

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Florida currently spends $62.3 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 29.5 percent of the $210.9 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Florida include:

  • Florida this year will collect $1.7 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 3.7 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Florida is spending less than 4 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • The tobacco companies spend $734.2 million a year to market their products in Florida. This is 11 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 13 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

In recent years, Florida has made significant progress in reducing tobacco use. In 2006, voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring the state to spend 15 percent of its annual settlement revenue on tobacco prevention programs. In 2009, Florida increased its cigarette tax by $1 per pack.

As a result, Florida reduced its high school smoking rate by 24 percent between 2005 and 2011 (from 15.7 percent to 11.9 percent who smoke) and its adult smoking rate by 21 percent between 2005 and 2010 (from 21.6 to 17.1 percent who smoke). Florida’s youth and adult smoking rates are both below the national average (nationally 19.5 percent of high school students and 19.3 percent of adults smoke).

“By providing dedicated funding for tobacco prevention, Florida is making great progress in preventing kids from smoking and helping smokers quit,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “To continue reducing smoking, Florida must maintain and increase its commitment. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.”

Despite the state’s progress, 21,300 Florida kids still become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 28,600 lives and costs the state $6.3 billion in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Altogether, the states have cut funding for these programs to the lowest level since 1999, when they first started receiving tobacco settlement payments. Key national findings of the report include:

  • The states this year will collect $25.6 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it – $456.7 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.
  • States have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 12 percent ($61.2 million) in the past year and by 36 percent ($260.5 million) in the past four years.
  • Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

The report warns that the nation’s progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Source: PR Newswire