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National Report: North Dakota Ranks 2nd In Protecting Kids From Tobacco

WASHINGTON, Dec 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- North Dakota ranks 2nd 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.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO)

Counting both state funding and a federal grant, North Dakota has budgeted $9.4 million this year for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which meets the recommended funding level set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for North Dakota include:

  • North Dakota this year will collect $60 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes and will spend 13.7 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.
  • The tobacco companies spend $25.7 million a year to market their products in North Dakota. This is 3 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.

A 2008 voter-approved ballot initiative requires North Dakota to fund a tobacco prevention and cessation program at the CDC-recommended level.  In just two years, from 2009 to 2011, North Dakota has reduced smoking among high school students by 13.5 percent (from 22.4 percent to 19.4 percent who smoke).

North Dakota made further progress this year when voters overwhelmingly approved a comprehensive smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.  That law takes effect today.

"We congratulate North Dakota for its leadership in working to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect all its citizens from harmful secondhand smoke," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  " North Dakota is making a smart investment in tobacco prevention that will save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

In North Dakota, 19.4 percent of high school students smoke, and 600 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 800 lives and costs the state $247 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 of the report 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.

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