WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Fifteen years after the $246 billion tobacco legal settlements were reached most states are not spending much on tobacco cessation, U.S. researchers say.
Tobacco use is the top cause of preventable U.S. death, killing more than 400,000 Americans and costing the nation $96 billion in healthcare bills each year and most states involved in the settlements promised a significant portion of the money would be spent on programs to prevent children and teens from smoking and help smokers quit.
The report, entitled "Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 15 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights said the states lied.
Over the past 15 years, the states received $391 billion in tobacco-generated revenue -- $116.3 billion from the tobacco settlement and $274.5 billion from tobacco taxes. However, they spent only 2.3 percent of their tobacco money, or $8.9 billion, on tobacco prevention programs, the report said.
For fiscal year 2014, the states will collect $25 billion in tobacco revenues, but will spend only 1.9 percent of it -- or $481.2 million -- on tobacco prevention programs. This year's funding is a slight increase from a year ago, but it fails to restore deep cuts that have reduced tobacco prevention funding by a third since 2008.
The states currently provide just 13 percent of the tobacco prevention funding recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with only North Dakota and Alaska funding tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.
Only four other states -- Delaware, Wyoming, Hawaii and Oklahoma -- provide even half the recommended funding.