- Obama ‘cavalier’ in hiding foreign aid order, judge rules
- Prince Charles: Muslims are driving Christians from Mideast through persecution
- Gitmo’s first commander: Close the prison down
- Google’s newest photography find: Just wink and shoot
- Detroit’s Heidelberg art project hit by 8 fires in 8 months
- Pa. police pull people over for random DNA tests for feds
- NASA pushing hard to get back into space game
- Harvard student to face federal charges for bomb hoax
- Ronnie Biggs of ‘Great Train Robbery’ fame dies, 84
- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
Stop-smoking efforts don’t see money
States spent only 3% of $243.8 billion they received from tobacco companies
States have collected billions of dollars from tobacco companies but spent only 3 percent of it to combat smoking - a less-than-robust response to the high costs of health care associated with smoking, a federal report released Thursday says.
Of the $243.8 billion in tobacco money received from 1998 to 2010 from a landmark tobacco settlement and excise taxes, states spent only $8.1 billion, or 3.3 percent, on “tobacco control,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
This is far below the 12 percent minimum, or $29.2 billion, that the CDC recommended states spend on smoking-prevention efforts. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and has health-care costs of $96 billion a year, the agency says.
Antismoking advocates echoed the CDC, saying most states already have been “penny-wise and pound-foolish” and some may be getting even more stingy with their tobacco-prevention efforts.
In the 2012 budget year, “states will collect $25.6 billion in tobacco revenue, but will spend less than 2 percent of it - $456.7 million - on tobacco-prevention programs,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
This is “an enormous missed opportunity to accelerate progress against tobacco use in the United States,” he said.
But others called the current state of affairs entirely predictable. There was no stipulation in the 1998 tobacco settlement on how states must spend the money, so it “became another honey pot,” said Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute.
In cases like that, he said, speaking from his past experience as a state budget official, “when you have money coming in, it’s going to be spent where the wheel is squeaky. And some wheels are squeakier than others.”
Meanwhile, U.S. smoking levels are slowly declining.
According to the CDC, the number of adults who smoke fell from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 19.3 percent in 2010. This is far from the smoking levels seen in 1964, when 42 percent of adults smoked, but not on a track to reach the CDC’s goal of reducing adult smoking to 10 percent by 2025.
Teen smoking is also down: In 2011, 18.7 percent of high-school seniors, 11.8 percent of 10th-graders and 6.1 percent of eighth-graders told the Monitoring the Future survey that they had smoked cigarettes in the past month. These are the lowest 30-day smoking figures since the school-based survey started in 1975.
Arguments about funding have dogged the landmark tobacco settlement from its beginning.
In late 1998, 46 attorneys generals and major tobacco companies agreed to a “master settlement agreement” in which the companies would pay the states $206 billion over 25 years to defray costs of providing Medicaid health care to smokers.
Although attorneys general touted the settlement as a way to combat health costs and “save a generation or at least a big part of it,” as one official said, the agreement did not specify how the money had to be spent.
It soon became evident that states would use the tobacco windfall as they pleased, pouring funds into reading programs, road construction, sidewalk repair and state-employee benefits. Anti-tobacco leaders, who once imagined that most of the tobacco money would fund prevention efforts, fumed as newspapers reported that 3 cents on the dollar were going to reduce smoking.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- We told you so: Conservatives foresaw polygamy ruling
- Mich. law makes women buy own insurance for abortions
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- Panel seeks 'surveillance' system for gay blood donors
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
Latest Blog Entries
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
- House votes to reject Obama welfare shift
- Report: Two out of three Democrats support gay marriage
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- IRS pays tax cheats hundreds of millions of dollars
- HURT: D.C. gets the vapors, calls sequester too much
- Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- EDITORIAL: Al Gore, soothsayer
- Obama mocks Putin, picks gay athletes for Sochi delegation
- We told you so: Conservatives foresaw polygamy ruling
- Army to cut up to 4,000 captains and majors
- Senators in rush to pass budget vow to undo cut to military retirement pay
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
Southern Fried Politics from the Lens of a Persian-American Millennial
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow