Thursday, December 6, 2012

New report says states spend small amount of promised dollars to fight tobacco use

An annual report released today through the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids called, “Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later,” finds that states, including Colorado, are spending only a small portion of their tobacco revenues to fight tobacco use. Although Colorado ranks 8th in the nation in funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs, it spends only 41.5 percent of the $54.4 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Colorado does not receive any funds from the 1998 tobacco settlement revenue for tobacco prevention and cession programs. The state’s program is funded through the 2004 Amendment 35 tobacco tax approved by voters.  In the past year, Colorado restored the tobacco control funding required by the 2004 ballot initiative after declaring a fiscal emergency and diverting most of the funds.

“Colorado has taken an important step forward this year by restoring funding for tobacco prevention programs, but it can make even greater progress by significantly increasing the cigarette tax and investing more 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.”

Colorado’s state cigarette tax is 84 cents per pack and ranks 34th in the nation, well below the state average of $1.48 per pack.

Tobacco companies spend about $113 million a year to market their products in Colorado. This is five times what the state spends on tobacco prevention and cessation.

In Colorado, about 5,300 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims about 4,300 lives and costs the state more than $1.3 billion in health care bills.

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