California ranks 22nd 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.
California currently spends $70 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 15.8 percent of the $441.9 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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Other key findings for California include:
- The tobacco companies spend $656.3 million a year to market their products in California. This is nine times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
- California this year will collect $1.7 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4.2 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means California is spending just four cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
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.
California has been a national leader in the fight against tobacco, but the state has fallen behind in implementing proven measures to reduce tobacco use. In addition to falling short in funding tobacco prevention programs, California has not increased the state cigarette tax since 1999 and now has the 33rd lowest tax at 87 cents per pack.
In June 2012, California voters will have the opportunity to restore California's leadership against tobacco by approving a ballot initiative to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack in order to fund cancer research and increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The measure, called the California Cancer Research Act, is supported by a broad coalition of local and national public health groups.
"Next year, California voters can make their state a leader again in the fight against tobacco by approving the California Cancer Research Act," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Increasing the cigarette tax will reduce smoking, especially among kids, while providing much needed funds for cancer research and tobacco prevention. This initiative will save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."
In California, 13.8 percent of high school students smoke, and 34,400 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 36,600 lives and costs the state $9.1 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:
- Only two states - Alaska and North Dakota - currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level. 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.
- 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.
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 .