- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Indiana’s failure to “do the right thing” with money from the 1998 tobacco settlement has cost the state $63 million in health funding, a state lawmaker says.

Indiana ranked 50th in per-capita funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration in 2013, according to a report released by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

State Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/1tfilqt ) that Indiana was supposed to use hundreds of millions of dollars from the settlement largely to prevent tobacco use. Instead, the state spends just $5.8 million a year on such programs. That’s about 7 percent of the amount recommended by the CDC.

This year, the state will collect nearly $537 million in revenue from tobacco taxes and the 1998 tobacco settlement, but it will spend just over 1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.

“Normally, we get $131 million from the federal government in tobacco settlement money,” Stoops said. “But in April of this year, a panel of three retired federal judges ruled that because Indiana has not been diligent enough to do the right thing with the tobacco settlement, we would receive only $68 million in tobacco money instead of $131 million - meaning we’ve lost $63 million.”

Indiana’s high smoking rate contributes to its persistent rank near the bottom nationally in the health of its residents. More than a fourth of the state’s adults smoke, according to a 2011 report by the state.

Stoops said Indiana has allocated $10 million for tobacco cessation and prevention programs in the 2014-2015 fiscal year. That’s just a third of the $30 million appropriation in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

“It does not make sense to cut smoking cessation funding,” Stoops said. “For every dollar we spend on smoking cessation, we literally save $30 to $40 in health care costs related to smoking.”

Stoops said studies show that more than half the smokers in Indiana tried to quit during the past year.

“If we would increase funding to help people break the habit, that would be a smart use of money,” he said. “It’s sound financial policy to invest more up front to save expenses down the road.”

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Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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