Mississippi ranks 17th in US in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, spending US$9.7M annually on such programs, according to new report

WASHINGTON , December 7, 2012 (press release) – Mississippi ranks 17th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

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Mississippi currently spends $9.7 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 24.7 percent of the $39.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Mississippi include:

Mississippi this year will collect $261 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 3.7 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Mississippi is spending less than 4 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
The tobacco companies spend $111.5 million a year to market their products in Mississippi. This is 11 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.

From 1999 to 2006, Mississippi was a national leader in protecting kids from tobacco and was one of the few states that funded a tobacco prevention program at CDC-recommended levels. Despite the program's success, then-Governor Haley Barbour in 2006 successfully sued to overturn a 2000 court order that set aside settlement money for the program. Mississippi has yet to fully restore funding for tobacco prevention.

Health advocates urge Mississippi leaders to increase funding for tobacco prevention and also enact a statewide smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, restaurants and bars.

"Mississippi has made a modest investment in programs to protect kids from tobacco, but falls far short of what the CDC recommends," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "To continue making progress, Mississippi should increase funding for tobacco prevention and pass a strong, statewide smoke-free law. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

In Mississippi, 17.9 percent of high school students smoke, and 3,900 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 4,700 lives and costs the state $719 million in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings include:

The states this year will collect $25.7 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it – $459.5 million – on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
States are falling woefully short of the CDC's recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states have budgeted just 12.4 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.
Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.
As the nation implements health care reform, the report warns that states are missing a golden opportunity to reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year in the U.S. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people each year. Nationally, 19 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students smoke.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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