Sep. 26 2003
Washington, D.C. — Indiana's survey of youth tobacco use released today shows that the state's new tobacco prevention program has already dramatically reduced youth smoking and will improve health, save lives and save money over time. But these public health gains will not continue and likely will be reversed unless Indiana's leaders act quickly to restore funding for the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation program, which was slashed from $32.5 million to $10.8 million in the last legislative session. Despite budget difficulties, Indiana this year will receive $450 million in tobacco revenue from the state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes. Surely Indiana can afford to use just seven percent of its total tobacco revenue to fully fund a tobacco prevention program that is delivering such tremendous health benefits for the state. The facts are clear: Tobacco prevention works and Indiana has plenty of tobacco revenue to fully fund its program. Now it's up to Indiana's leaders to stand up for the state's kids and restore funding for tobacco prevention.
According to the new survey, Indiana reduced high school smoking rates by 26 percent between 2000 and 2002 – from 32 percent to 23 percent. These reductions will result in 29,000 fewer high school smokers, save 9,800 youth from premature, smoking-caused deaths, and save Indiana $1.5 billion in future smoking-caused health care costs.
Given the overwhelming evidence from Indiana and other states that tobacco prevention works, it is clear that tobacco prevention is one of the smartest and most fiscally responsible investments Indiana can make, even in difficult budget times. If Indiana invests in tobacco prevention now, it will not only reduce smoking and save lives, but also save far more than it spends on prevention by reducing smoking-caused health care costs. In fact, the best state tobacco prevention programs have saved up to three dollars for every dollar spent. If Indiana fails to invest in tobacco prevention, its citizens will pay a high price in health, lives and money. Indiana's leaders have difficult budget choices to make, but it is penny-wise and pound-foolish for them to cut tobacco prevention.
Indiana's survey comes just days after a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided some of the strongest evidence to date that tobacco prevention programs are highly effective at reducing smoking. According to the CDC study, states with the best-funded and most sustained tobacco prevention programs during the 1990s reduced cigarette sales more than twice as much as the country as a whole (43 percent compared to 20 percent). Opponents of tobacco prevention spending have argued that such declines are caused by other factors such as cigarette price increases. However, this new study, the first to isolate the impact of tobacco prevention programs from cigarette prices and other factors, demonstrates a clear correlation between how much states spend on tobacco prevention programs and how much they reduce smoking. The more states invest in tobacco prevention, and the longer they do so, the greater the declines in smoking.
Indiana is succeeding because it has invested in a comprehensive tobacco prevention program as recommended by the CDC and the Surgeon General of the United States. Comprehensive tobacco prevention programs include public education, advertising to counter tobacco industry marketing, community and school-based programs, helping smokers quit, and strictly enforcing laws that establish smoke-free areas and restrict youth access to tobacco products.
Indiana's results add to the powerful evidence from across the country that comprehensive tobacco prevention programs work. Other states with well-funded tobacco prevention programs have reduced youth smoking by as much as 50 percent in just a few short years. Studies show California, which started the nation's oldest tobacco prevention program in 1990, has saved tens of thousands of lives by reducing smoking-caused birth complications, heart disease, strokes and lung cancer. Unfortunately, we also have strong evidence from the CDC and several states, including Florida and California, that funding cuts can quickly reduce the effectiveness of tobacco prevention programs.