A Broken Promise to Our Children: 2011

The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement Thirteen Years Later

Every year since the tobacco settlement lawsuits were settled by states against tobacco companies (November 1998), a coalition of public health organizations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has conducted an assessment of state spending for programs that reduce tobacco use.

According to this year's report, of the $25.6 billion collected in tobacco revenue, only 1.8 percent—$456.7 million—will be spent by states on programs to prevent kids from smoking and to help smokers quit. States have slashed funding by 12 percent in the past year and by 36 percent over the past four years, threatening the nation’s progress against tobacco. This means that states are spending less than two cents of every tobacco dollar to fight tobacco use.

Key Findings:

  • Ten years after the tobacco settlement, state spending on tobacco prevention and cessation programs has been 3.2 percent of total tobacco revenue.
  • States are falling short of recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs set by the CDC; $456.7 million has been budgeted by states versus $3.7 billion recommended by the CDC.
  • Federal grants have cushioned the impact of state cuts, but the funds provided by the 2009 economic stimulus law will run out this year.
  • Ten states are funding tobacco prevention programs at between 25 and 50 percent of CDC-recommended levels.
  • Thirty-three states (including the District of Columbia) are providing less than one-quarter of the CDC-recommended amounts to fund prevention programs. Twenty-three of these states, including the District of Columbia are providing less than 10 percent; four states (including the District of Columbia) have allocated no state funds for prevention programs in Fiscal Year 2012.
  • Tobacco companies spend $23 to market tobacco products for every one dollar states spend on tobacco prevention programs.

Recent surveys have found that smoking declines in the United States have slowed. With nearly 20 percent of Americans still smoking, this report warns that continued progress against tobacco use–the nation’s number-one cause of preventable death–is at risk unless states increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

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