In 1998, states settled their lawsuits against the nation’s major tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health care costs, with total payments estimated at $246 billion over the first 25 years.
Every year since, a coalition of public health organizations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has issued an annual report assessing the amount of settlement money and the billions more collected from tobacco taxes states spend on programs to fight tobacco use.
According to this year’s report, Fiscal Year 2014, of the $25 billion in tobacco revenues, only 1.9 percent of it–$481.2 million–will be spent on programs to prevent kids from smoking and to help smokers quit despite conclusive evidence that these programs reduce smoking, save lives, and money.
Overall conclusions of this year’s report include:
- In Fiscal Year 2014, the states will collect $25 billion in revenue from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only 1.9 percent of it–$481.2 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 recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Only two states–North Dakota and Alaska– are funding tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level. Only four other states–Delaware, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Oklahoma–provide even half the recommended funding.
- The amount states spend on tobacco prevention programs is minuscule in comparison to the huge sums tobacco companies spend to market their deadly and addictive products. Tobacco companies spend more than $18 to market tobacco products for every one dollar the states spend to reduce tobacco use. According to the latest data from the Federal Trade Commission (for 2011), tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year–one million dollars each hour–to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.