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LANSING (WWJ) - Michigan ranks 41st in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released Wednesday by a coalition of public health organizations.
The report found that Michigan currently spends $1.8 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 1.5 percent of the $121.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the report, Michigan this year will collect $1.2 billion in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Michigan is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
Tobacco companies are spending $313 million a year to market their products in Michigan, which is 171 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
Michigan took a big step forward in 2010 by implementing a strong, statewide smoke-free law. However, it is falling far short in funding tobacco prevention programs. To further reduce tobacco use, health advocates are urging Michigan to raise the state tobacco tax and increase funding for tobacco prevention programs.
Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in order to reduce tobacco use, Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature should raise the cigarette tax and increase funding for tobacco prevention.
In Michigan, 18.8 percent of high school students smoke, and 17,200 more kids become regular smokers each year, according to the report. Tobacco annually claims 14,500 lives and costs the state $3.4 billion in health care bills.
Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Altogether, the states have cut funding for these programs to the lowest level since 1999, when they first started receiving tobacco settlement payments.
States have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 12 percent ($61.2 million) in the past year and by 36 percent ($260.5 million) in the past four years. Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.
The report warns that the nation’s progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. The United States has significantly reduced smoking among both youth and adults, but 19.3 percent of adults and 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.
The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 13 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.
Find more information at www.tobaccofreekids.org.