Jan. 23 2001
Washington, DC — The state of Texas today is releasing important new evidence that comprehensive tobacco prevention programs work to reduce tobacco use among youth and are far more effective than piecemeal prevention efforts. Rather than spending substantial tobacco settlement funds to implement a statewide tobacco prevention program, Texas in 1999 allocated only a small amount to implement pilot tobacco prevention programs of varying levels in 14 East Texas communities. Results released today by a team of independent evaluators from several Texas universities show that truly comprehensive programs are by far the most effective. Communities with more comprehensive programs reduced tobacco use among sixth graders at up to twice the rate as communities with more limited approaches.
Comprehensive tobacco prevention programs include public education media campaigns, community and school-based programs, cessation programs and enforcement of laws against sales to minors.
When they voted to implement the pilot tobacco prevention program, Texas legislators said they wanted evidence in Texas of what programs worked and which elements would be most successful before implementing a statewide effort. Now they have that evidence and the results are clear: comprehensive tobacco prevention programs work. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature should move quickly to fund and implement a comprehensive, statewide tobacco prevention program that protects every child in Texas. Texas is currently spending only $9.3 million a year on tobacco prevention, which is far short of what is necessary.
Unfortunately, most states are failing their kids. Only six states – Maine, Mississippi, Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Indiana – are currently funding tobacco prevention programs at the minimum levels recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This failure to protect our kids is shameful and inexcusable given the growing evidence, including the Texas data released today, that comprehensive tobacco prevention programs are working to reduce smoking rates, save lives and reduce health care expenditures. Florida's program has reduced smoking rates by 40 percent among middle school students and 18 percent among high school students in two years, while Massachusetts' program has reduced smoking rates among high school students by 15 percent since 1995. Since 1988, tobacco consumption in California has declined by 50 percent compared to 30 percent for the country as a whole. Two recent studies show that California's pioneering program is not only reducing tobacco consumption, but also saving lives by reducing rates of heart disease and lung and bronchial cancer.
There is simply no excuse for any state to delay further in funding and implementing an effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention program.