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National Report: Ohio Ranks Last In Protecting Kids From Tobacco

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ohio is tied for last 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)

Ohio is one of four states that have budgeted zero state funds for tobacco prevention programs this year.  This is the third year in a row that Ohio has provided zero state funding for tobacco prevention.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Ohio provide $145 million a year for tobacco prevention programs. Other key findings for Ohio include:

  • Ohio this year will collect $1.1 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend none of it on tobacco prevention programs.
  • The tobacco companies spend $362.5 million a year to market their products in Ohio.

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.

Until 2008, Ohio had a highly successful tobacco prevention program, which was run by the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation.  However, state funding for the program was severely cut and then eliminated because then-Governor Ted Strickland and the Legislature raided the tobacco prevention endowment to pay for other programs. Unfortunately, Governor Kasich and the Legislature this year did not restore any of the funding, and Ohio will again spend no state funds on tobacco prevention.

" Ohio again is one of the most disappointing states when it comes to protecting kids," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "Unless state leaders act quickly to restore funding for tobacco prevention, Ohio will pay a high price with more kids smoking, more lives lost to tobacco and higher tobacco-related health care costs.  States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they fail to properly fund tobacco prevention programs."

In Ohio, 21.1 percent of high school students smoke, and 16,900 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 18,500 lives and costs the state $4.4 billion 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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