- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Stop-smoking efforts don’t see money
States spent only 3% of $243.8 billion they received from tobacco companies
Question of the Day
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.
“The CDC report confirms that most states have broken the promises they made at the time of the 1998 tobacco settlement to invest a significant portion of their settlement funds in fighting tobacco use, especially among kids,” Mr. Myers said Thursday.
Noting that one study has shown that for every $1 spent on tobacco-prevention, the state saved $5 in hospital costs, Mr. Myers said states have “no excuse” for failing to fund tobacco-prevention programs.
© Copyright 2014 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 ...
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia's gay marriage ban
- Events honoring 20th National Parents' Day reaffirm family
- '50 Shades' movie trailer outrages anti-porn groups
- Tougher clinic rules lead to drop in Texas abortions
- David Tyree hired by Giants in a move bashed by gay-rights groups
Latest Blog Entries
- Gay therapy ban author seeks Calif. House seat
- Transgender 'bathroom law' gets 5,000 more signatures
- 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
TWT Video Picks
By Richard Rahn
Treaty would let tyrants peer into Americans' financial information
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- D.C. plans to seek stay of order striking down ban on handguns in public
- Islamic State opens 'marriage bureau' for single jihadists
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq