State Spending on Smoking
Prevention Considered Inadequate
WASHINGTON D.C. -- April 19, 2002 -- Cigarette smoking killed over 440,000 people in the United States per year during 1995--1999, and remains the leading cause of death nationwide, according to a recent report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tobacco use was also responsible for about $157 billion in annual health-related economic losses during that time period, up from previous estimates of $53 billion and $43 billion.
States receive about $16 billion in revenue a year from tobacco settlement payments and state tobacco excise taxes, another CDC report notes. This is only about one-tenth of the tobacco health-related economic cost of $157 billion. And states reported that they actually spent $861 million in fiscal year 2002 for tobacco prevention programs, about one half of one percent of tobacco-caused costs.
The CDC and various consumer groups have urged all states to implement comprehensive tobacco-control programs, which could improve public health and help tame the staggering economic costs that result from smoking. "The American people should be horrified and outraged to learn that our nation is devoting so few resources to fighting a tobacco epidemic that costs us so much in lives and money," said Matthew Myers, President of the consumers group, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "...States that have implemented comprehensive tobacco prevention programs and increased tobacco taxes have dramatically cut smoking among both children and adults, reduced the incidence of lung cancer and heart disease, and saved millions in health care costs."