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Report Shows Most States Falling Short in Using Tobacco Settlement Funds for Tobacco Prevention

Study Released at Congressional Hearing Concludes State Efforts No Match for Increased Tobacco Industry Marketing
October 05, 2000

Washington, DC — The vast majority of states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention programs with money received from the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the states and the tobacco companies, according to a report released today.

While virtually every state has had the opportunity to determine how to spend the funds it will receive from the $246 billion settlement, only five states - Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Mississippi - have used settlement funds to meet the minimum funding levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for effective tobacco prevention programs, according to the report.

'The states' funding of tobacco prevention and cessation programs is woefully inadequate given the magnitude of the problem,' concludes the report, entitled 'Show Us the Money: An Update on the States' Allocation of the Tobacco Settlement Dollars.'

The report was sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Lung Association. It was presented today by Campaign President Matthew L. Myers while testifying before a Senate Commerce Committee hearing chaired by Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

'The need for comprehensive, effective tobacco prevention programs has never been greater because youth smoking rates remain at near record levels and tobacco company promotional efforts that directly affect children continue to rise,' said Myers. 'Although the settlement has eliminated or reduced some types of advertising like billboards, the tobacco companies are always finding new and creative ways to reach our kids. Several recent studies have confirmed that tobacco companies have increased advertising in magazines with high youth readership, as well as in convenience stores frequented by youth.'

A Massachusetts Department of Public Health study released in May showed that the tobacco companies actually increased tobacco ads in magazines with high youth readership following the state settlement. A similar study released in July by the University of Illinois at Chicago showed increased tobacco advertising in convenience stores frequented by kids. The Federal Trade Commission, in its most recent report on the issue, found that the tobacco companies spent a total of $6.7 billion marketing their products in 1998.

The public health community has fought to use a portion of the tobacco settlement funds for tobacco prevention programs in the states, and the CDC has recommended that states use approximately 20 to 25 percent of their settlement funds to establish comprehensive tobacco prevention programs. Specific results from the report show:

  • Fifteen states have made substantial commitments (more than half the minimum amount recommended by the CDC) to fund tobacco prevention and cessation, but of those states, only five met the CDC's minimum funding levels.

  • Eleven additional states committed only modest amounts to new tobacco prevention and cessation programs (less than one-half the minimum amount recommended by the CDC).

  • Fourteen states have committed minimal amounts to tobacco prevention and cessation (less than 25% of the minimum amount recommended by the CDC).

  • Three states committed none of the settlement money to tobacco prevention.

  • Six states have not yet acted.

'The lawsuits were brought by states against the tobacco industry to reduce the toll of tobacco, but the states are not living up to their promise to reduce this pediatric epidemic,' said Myers. 'The state's failure to fund effective programs is tragic because evidence is now conclusive that comprehensive programs work.'

In his August 2000 report entitled 'Reducing Tobacco Use,' Surgeon General David Satcher found that the U.S. could reduce tobacco use by 50 percent in one decade if currently-used prevention and cessation programs were implemented nationwide. Six states that have comprehensive programs - California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Arizona, Florida and Mississippi - have seen impressive reductions in youth tobacco use. 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 reduced smoking rates among high school students by 16 percent between 1996 and 1999.

Special Report: State Tobacco Settlement

Testimony: Matthew L. Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee (October 5, 2000)