Comprehensive, well-funded state programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit are proven to save lives and money.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established Best Practices that recommend key elements of tobacco prevention and cessation programs and how much each state should spend on them.
Key elements include:
Coordinated state and community interventions aimed at preventing youth and young adults from starting to use tobacco, promoting quitting among current tobacco users and eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke;
Mass media campaigns and other public education efforts;
Cessation interventions that encourage and help tobacco users to quit; and
Surveillance and evaluation activities to ensure the program is having the desired impact.
The evidence is clear: The more states spend on these programs, and the longer they do so, the greater the impact.
Unfortunately, most states are failing to properly fund these programs — and have slashed funding in recent years — despite collecting $25 billion a year in tobacco revenue from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and our public health partners issue an annual report assessing whether the states are adequately funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs, as many states promised to do at the time of the tobacco settlement. Our latest report gave most states a failing grade:
The states this year (Fiscal Year 2014) will collect $25 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but are spending only 1.9 percent of it — $481.2 million — on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
Over the past 15 years, the states have received $390.8 billion in tobacco-generated revenue – $116.3 billion from the tobacco settlement and $274.5 billion from tobacco taxes. But they have spent only 2.3 percent of their tobacco money – $8.9 billion – on tobacco prevention programs.
Only two states — North Dakota and Alaska — currently fund tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended levels.
Altogether, the states are providing just 14.6 percent of the CDC’s recommended funding.
The states lack excuses for failing to do more given their huge sums of tobacco revenue and the extensive evidence that tobacco prevention programs are highly effective:
Tobacco prevention programs reduce smoking. States with sustained, well-funded prevention programs have cut youth smoking rates in half or even more. Florida recently reported that its high school smoking rate fell to just 8.6 percent in 2013, far below the national rate.
Tobacco prevention programs save lives. California, with the nation’s longest-running prevention and cessation programs, has reduced lung and bronchus cancer rates four times faster than the rest of the U.S. Washington state estimates that its smoking reductions have prevented 13,000 premature deaths.
Tobacco prevention programs save money. A 2011 study found that Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent during the first 10 years of its program.
Given such a strong return on investment, states are being penny-wise and pound-foolish in shortchanging tobacco prevention and cessation programs. To continue reducing smoking, states must increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
Updated: March 18, 2013