New Report: States Shortchange Tobacco Prevention Programs That Can Stop 7 Million Kids from Smoking, Save over 2 Million Lives
States Challenged to Follow Florida’s Example in Cutting Youth Smoking to Record Lows
Washington, DC – The states are missing an opportunity to save millions of lives and over $120 billion in health care costs because they continue to shortchange proven programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.
This year (fiscal year 2015), the states will collect $25.6 billion from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes. But they will spend less than two percent of it – $490.4 million – on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, according to the annual report assessing state funding of such programs.
This year’s report challenges the states to do more by shining the spotlight on Florida, which has cut high school smoking to just 7.5% – one of the lowest rates recorded by any state. Among its efforts to reduce tobacco use, Florida has a long-running and well-funded tobacco prevention program.
The report details the lives and health care dollars each state, and the nation as a whole, could save by reducing youth smoking to Florida’s low rate. If the national high school smoking rate declined from the current 15.7% to 7.5%, the report finds it would:
- Prevent 7 million kids from becoming adult smokers
- Save 2.3 million kids from premature, smoking-causing deaths
- Save $122 billion in future, tobacco-related health care costs
Tobacco use is the #1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 480,000 Americans each year. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevetion (CDC) study released Wednesday showed that smoking costs the nation about $170 billion in annual health care spending, which is more than previously estimated. Without strong action now, 5.6 million kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.