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National Report: Pennsylvania Ranks 28th In Protecting Kids From Tobacco

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania ranks 28th 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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Pennsylvania currently spends $14.2 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 9.1 percent of the $155.5 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Pennsylvania include:

  • Pennsylvania this year will collect $1.4 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Pennsylvania is spending a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • The tobacco companies spend $396 million a year to market their products in Pennsylvania. This is 28 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.

" Pennsylvania continues to fall short when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco and needs to increase its investment in tobacco prevention," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "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.  States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they fail to properly fund tobacco prevention programs."

In Pennsylvania, 18.4 percent of high school students smoke, and 17,300 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 20,000 lives and costs the state $5.2 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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