Florida this year will collect $1.6 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.
Florida ranks 14th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released yesterday by a coalition of public health organizations.
Florida currently spends $64.3 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 30.5 percent of the $210.9 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.
In recent years, Florida has taken significant action to reduce tobacco use. In 2006, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring the state to spend 15 percent of its annual tobacco settlement revenue on tobacco prevention programs. In 2009, Florida increased its cigarette tax by $1 per pack.
Florida reduced its high school smoking rate by nearly 36 percent between 2005 and 2012, from 15.7 percent to 10.1 percent who smoke. However, illegal and prescription drug use is on the increase among teens.
"Florida's strong commitment to tobacco prevention is paying off with large declines in youth smoking that will save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "But Florida's fight against tobacco is far from over. To continue making progress, Florida must sustain its investment in tobacco prevention as required by the state Constitution and follow the CDC 's best practices in implementing an effective program."
In Florida, 21,300 more kids still become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 28,600 lives and costs the state $6.3 billion in health care bills.
Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings include:
- The states this year will collect $25.7 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it – $459.5 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 the CDC's recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states have budgeted just 12.4 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.
- Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.
As the nation implements health care reform, the report warns that states are missing a golden opportunity to reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year in the U.S. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people each year. Nationally, 19 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students smoke.