National Report: Missouri Ranks 45th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Missouri ranks 45th 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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Missouri currently spends $60,000 a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 0.1 percent of the $73.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Missouri include:
- Missouri this year will collect $244 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend almost none of it on tobacco prevention programs.
- The tobacco companies spend $349 million a year to market their products in Missouri. This is 5,815 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.
Missouri is one the worst states in the nation when it comes to fighting tobacco use. The state provides almost no funding for tobacco prevention programs; has the nation’s lowest cigarette tax at just 17 cents per pack compared to the national average of $1.46 per pack; and lacks a statewide smoke-free law.
A proposed 2012 ballot initiative would give Missouri voters the opportunity to step up the fight against tobacco by raising the cigarette tax from 17 to 90 cents, while also raising the tax on other tobacco products. The new revenues would fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs, local public K-12 schools, and public colleges and universities statewide.
“For years, Missouri has been one of the most disappointing states when it comes to funding programs to protect kids from tobacco. That can finally change in 2012 if Missouri voters approve the proposed ballot initiative to raise the tobacco tax and fund tobacco prevention,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “These proven measures will prevent kids from smoking, save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.”
In Missouri, 18.9 percent of high school students smoke, and 8,000 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 9,500 lives and costs the state $2.1 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. The United States has significantly reduced smoking among both youth and adults, but 19.3 percent of adults and 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke.
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