WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 Georgia ranks 50th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.
Georgia currently spends $3.2 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 2.7 percent of the $116.5 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year, Georgia also ranked 50th, spending $3.2 million on tobacco prevention.
Other key findings for Georgia include:
The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 11 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In addition to its lack of funding for tobacco prevention, Georgia's cigarette tax is only 37 cents per pack, which is the 47th lowest in the nation and well below the national average of $1.34 per pack. Increasing the cigarette tax is a proven way to reduce smoking, especially among kids.
"Georgia again is one of the most disappointing states in funding programs to protect kids from tobacco and is spending just a fraction of what the CDC recommends," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "To reduce tobacco's devastating toll, Georgia's leaders should raise the cigarette tax and increase funding for tobacco prevention. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that reduces smoking, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."
In Georgia, 18.6 percent of high school students smoke, and 9,900 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 10,500 lives and costs the state $2.3 billion in health care bills.
Eleven years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, the new report finds that the states this year are collecting record amounts of revenue from the tobacco industry, but are spending less of it on tobacco prevention. Key national findings of the report include:
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 the CDC's most recent survey showed that smoking declines among adults have stalled. Currently 20 percent of high school students and 20.6 percent of adults 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. Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular smokers - one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.
More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.
-- Georgia this year will collect $377 million from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.8 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. -- The tobacco companies spend $426.4 million a year to market their products in Georgia. This is 134 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids