Apr. 13 2009
Boston — The Presidents/CEO's of four major voluntary health organizations released a report today showing that New England States are not keeping their promise to use a significant portion of funds from the 1998 state tobacco settlement to reduce tobacco's toll on the states' children, families and communities. The report, released during a news conference at the Massachusetts State House, finds that more than 10 years after the settlement, none of the New England states is funding tobacco prevention at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report, titled "SHORT CHANGED: BROKEN PROMISES ON TOBACCO CONTROL PLACE MILLIONS OF KIDS ACROSS NEW ENGLAND AT RISK FOR ADDICTION AND EARLY DEATH," is being released two days before the states receive their next round of multi-million dollar payments from the settlement. The report was compiled by the Washington, DC-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. View the full report.
Key findings of the report include:
The report warns that the region faces two significant and immediate challenges in the fight against tobacco use: complacency and looming state budget shortfalls. The last time the New England states faced budget shortfalls (2002-2005), they cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 66 percent.
Don Gudaitis, CEO, American Cancer Society, NE Division; Gary J. Balady, MD, President, BOD, American Heart/American Stroke Association; Jeffrey Seyler, President and CEO, American Lung Association of New England; and Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids,
called on the states to live up to their promises to use their tobacco settlement money to address the tobacco problem in their states, and signed a "Resolution" that will be sent to elected officials across the New England states.
"While several of the New England states have made significant progress in the fight against tobacco use, there is still much room for improvement in the region. The twin dangers of complacency and budget shortfalls put any future progress at risk unless the states show leadership by making tobacco prevention and cessation a priority," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "It would be penny-wise and pound foolish to cut tobacco prevention during these tough economic times. Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that reduces smoking, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."
On November 23, 1998, 46 states, including all of the New England states, settled their lawsuits against the nation's major tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health care costs. These settlements require the tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity, with total payments estimated at $246 billion over the first 25 years. The tobacco settlements presented the states with a historic opportunity and record sums of money to attack the enormous public health problem posed by tobacco use in the United States. While the multi-state settlement did not dictate how states should spend the money, many state attorneys general and governors pledged that they would use the tobacco companies' own money to protect kids from tobacco and help those already addicted to quit.
Tobacco remains the nation's leading cause of preventable death, killing more than 20,000 New Englanders each year. Today in New England, more than 1.8 million adults and 146,000 high school students are smokers; more than 58,500 New England kids try smoking each year, and 17,300 become regular daily smokers — one-third of whom will die prematurely. At the same time, there is more evidence than ever that tobacco prevention and cessation programs work, especially when part of a comprehensive effort to reduce tobacco use that also includes higher tobacco taxes and smoke-free workplace laws.
Tobacco companies spend more than $13 to market tobacco products for every $1 spent by the six states to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit; only a small percentage of the tobacco revenue needs to be invested in tobacco prevention programs to achieve the funding level recommended by the national Centers for Disease Control for effective intervention.
FULL REPORT AVAILABLE
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