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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Your Health

Anti-Smoking Funds Drop Despite Increased Tobacco Revenue

Faced with tight budgets, state funding of tobacco prevention programs has significantly decreased.

Fourteen years ago, the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement mandated states to allocate tobacco tax dollars on smoking prevention programs. But, according to a study released on Thursday, states have not quite upheld their promise. The study shows that despite record high revenues from tobacco taxes, states have significantly lowered their tobacco prevention budgets, spending less money than ever since the 1998 settlement.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that states will receive a record $25.7 billion during this fiscal year in tobacco taxes and settlement money. However, the study shows that in reality, less than two percent will be spent on prevention. States received an estimated $246 billion over 25 years from the settlement.

While the states have budgeted roughly $459.5 million for funding of these programs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a $3.7 billion budget for all the states combined, according the report.

The CDC gives an annual recommendation on how much money each state should spend on these anti-tobacco efforts. California ranks 22nd in the country, and only spends 14.1 percent of funding on anti-tobacco efforts. The state currently spends $62.1 million of the $441.9 million recommended by the CDC.

North Dakota and Alaska are the only two states which currently fund such programs at the CDC recommended level. And only Delaware, Wyoming and Hawaii are funding anti-tobacco programs at even half the suggested levels. All other states' funding remains below fifty percent of CDC recommended levels, according to the report.

Recent national surveys show that smoking declines have slowed in the U.S. in the past few years, according to the report, causing the state's lack of funding for prevention programs to be problematic now more than ever.

According to the CDC, tobacco use continues to be the number one cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.; it kills over 400,000 Americans every year. This is more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.

CDC reports show the 2010 adult smoking rate to still be at 19 percent, only a 1.9 percent decline since 2005. The reports also reveal that 18.1 percent of high school students are smokers, with declines continually slowing. Progress remains at risk until both states and the federal government increase their efforts to fight against tobacco usage.

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