Tobacco funds rarely used for anti-tobacco efforts

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A new report showing that state governments cut funding of smoking prevention programs by 15.4 percent this past fiscal year is the latest piece of research chronicling the decline in anti-tobacco funding in recent years.

This time, however, the cuts coincide with a record-high availability of tobacco-generated funding to state governments – either from a 1998 legal settlement with tobacco companies or from cigarette taxes – according to the report.

The report – the 11th annual installment in which five groups, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Heart Association, monitor state spending of the $246 billion settlement the states reached with tobacco companies in 1998 – shows that 2.3 percent of the $25.1 billion states will receive this year from tobacco companies and tobacco taxes will go toward antismoking programs.

The settlement does not require states to use the money on smoking prevention. Some of the money was used for growing state budget gaps caused by the recession.

The increase in available funds can be attributed to a bump in the annual payout from tobacco companies last year and to tobacco tax increases in many states.  

The report notes that state funding of tobacco prevention combined with federal grants amounts to only 17 percent of recommended spending amounts set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The other organizations involved in the report are the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Cancer Society and American Lung Association.