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MEDIA ADVISORY

January 15, 2001

From:  Office of Communications
Oklahoma State Department of Health
405/271-5601  

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids today released a report that assesses how states have used tobacco settlement money for tobacco prevention. Entitled “Show Us the Money: An Update on the States’ Allocation of the Tobacco Settlement Dollars,” the report ranks Oklahoma 41st in the nation in using money from the 1998 state tobacco settlement to protect kids from tobacco.

Enclosed is the news release from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids outlining details of the report.

For more information see this Web site: www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements

 

For Immediate Release
January 15, 2002  Contact: Tony Iallonardo/Joel Spivak
202-296-5469  

National Report Finds Oklahoma Among Bottom 10 In Protecting Kids From Tobacco
--Most States Not Using Tobacco Settlement Dollars for Tobacco Prevention
Despite Growing Evidence that Programs Protect Kids, Save Lives and Save Money--

Washington, DC (January 15, 2002) - Oklahoma ranks 41st in the nation in using money from the 1998 state tobacco settlement to protect kids from tobacco, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

The report found that Oklahoma currently spends only 7.9 percent of the minimum amount that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the state spend for tobacco prevention. The CDC has recommended that Oklahoma spend a minimum of $21.83 million a year on tobacco prevention, and the state’s actual spending is $1.73 million.

“By failing to provide adequate funding for tobacco prevention, Oklahoma’s leaders have let down the state’s kids and taxpayers,” said William V. Corr, Executive Vice President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Unless Oklahoma acts quickly to increase funding for tobacco prevention, the state will pay a high price. More kids will become addicted to tobacco, more lives will be lost and taxpayers will pay more to treat tobacco-caused disease. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention remains one of the smartest and most fiscally responsible investments that Oklahoma can make.”

The report, entitled “Show Us The Money: An Update on the States’ Allocation of the Tobacco Settlement Dollars,” was sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Lung Association. The report, which assesses how well the states have kept their promise to use tobacco settlement money for tobacco prevention, was released as state legislatures reconvene across the country, with many poised to raid tobacco settlement money to cover budget shortfalls.

The tobacco settlement will provide states with $246 billion over the next 25 years. The CDC recommends that states spend approximately 20 to 25 percent of this money in order to have effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention programs. However, the report found that only five states - Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Minnesota - are currently funding tobacco prevention at the minimum level recommended by the CDC and the majority of states are funding tobacco prevention at less than half the CDC minimum.

Other results from the report:

  • Only 19 states have committed even 50 percent of the minimum funding level recommended by the CDC.
  • Sixteen states between have committed between 25 and 50 percent of the minimum amount recommended by the CDC.
  • Twelve states have committed less than 25 percent of the minimum amount recommended by the CDC.
  • Three states and the District of Columbia have committed none of their settlement money or other major funding source, such as a tobacco tax, to tobacco prevention.

Despite the meager amounts being spent on tobacco prevention, the report also finds that some states are raiding money previously committed to tobacco prevention to address budget shortfalls. “These are penny-wise, pound-foolish decisions that ignore the evidence that tobacco prevention programs not only reduce smoking and save lives, but save far more money than they cost by reducing smoking-caused health care expenditures,” the report states.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 Americans every year. Nearly 90 percent of all smokers start at or before age 18. Every day in the U.S., 5,000 kids try their first cigarette, and another 2,000 kids become regular, daily smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result.

In Oklahoma, 33 percent of high school students currently smoke, and 9,800 more kids become regular, daily smokers every year, one-third of whom will die prematurely. Smoking-caused health care costs Oklahoma and its taxpayers $3.4 billion a year. Oklahoma received $64.1 million in tobacco settlement money in 2001. If it uses just some of this money to adequately fund tobacco prevention programs, Oklahoma can reduce smoking, save lives, and reduce tobacco-related health costs. The evidence is conclusive that these programs work:

Reducing smoking: Since starting its program in 1998, Florida has cut smoking rates by 47 percent among middle school students and 30 percent among high school students. This decline represents nearly 75,000 fewer youth smokers and more than 24,000 fewer premature smoking deaths. Since 1997, Maine has cut smoking by 36 percent among high school students, while Oregon has cut smoking by 41 percent among eighth graders.

Saving Lives: Recent studies show that California, which started the nation’s oldest tobacco prevention program in 1989, has saved tens of thousands of lives by reducing smoking-caused birth complications, heart disease, strokes and lung cancer.

Saving money for taxpayers: Studies have shown that California is now saving more than $3 in smoking-caused health care costs for every dollar it spends on tobacco prevention, while Massachusetts, which started its program in 1993, is already saving more than $2 for every dollar spent on tobacco prevention.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information can be obtained on the Internet at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements or by calling 202-296-5469.

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