States have slashed funding for programs to reduce tobacco use by 12 percent in the past year and by 36 percent over the past four years, threatening the nation’s progress against tobacco, according to a report released today by a coalition of public health organizations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The states this year will collect $25.6 billion in revenue from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only 1.8 percent of it—$456.7 million—on programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use. Both the total amounts states are spending on tobacco prevention programs and the percentage of tobacco revenue spent on these programs are the lowest since 1999, when the states first received tobacco settlement funds.
The report, titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 13 Years Later,” comes as recent surveys have found that smoking declines in the United States have slowed. With nearly 20 percent of Americans still smoking, it 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.