Connecticut ranks 23rd 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.
Connecticut currently spends $6 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 13.7 percent of the $43.9 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Connecticut include:
• Connecticut this year will collect $535 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Connecticut is spending just a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
• Connecticut has increased funding for tobacco prevention programs from zero last year to the current $6 million, but it is still far short of what the CDC recommends.
• The tobacco companies spend $71.7 million a year to market their products in Connecticut. This is 12 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 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. The report assesses whether the states have kept their promise to use a significant portion of their settlement funds, as well as tobacco taxes, to reduce tobacco use.
“Connecticut has taken a small step forward this year by providing $6 million for tobacco prevention, but it is still falling far short of what the CDC recommends and must use more of its tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “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.”
In Connecticut, 15.9 percent of high school students smoke, and 4,300 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 4,700 lives and costs the state $1.6 billion in health care bills.
Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings include:
• The states this year will collect $25.7 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it – $459.5 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 are falling woefully short of the CDC’s recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states have budgeted just 12.4 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.
• Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.
As the nation implements health care reform, the report warns that states are missing a golden opportunity to reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year in the U.S. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people each year. Nationally, 19 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students smoke.