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National Report Ranks North Dakota First in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 Press Release J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- North Dakota ranks 1st 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. North Dakota's top ranking results from the implementation of Ballot Measure 3, which voters approved in November 2008.  It requires that the state use tobacco settlement money to fund a tobacco prevention program at the level recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO )

North Dakota currently spends $9.4 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which meets the CDC's recommendation that the state spend $9.3 million. North Dakota is the only state to meet the CDC's recommendation.  Last year, North Dakota ranked 12th, spending $4.1 million on tobacco prevention.

"We applaud North Dakota for becoming the nation's leader in funding programs to fight tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "Tobacco prevention is a smart investment for North Dakota that will improve the state's physical and financial health for generations to come.  The evidence is clear that tobacco prevention programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.  To succeed, it is vital that North Dakota sustain its investment in tobacco prevention over time."

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.

Other key findings for North Dakota include:

  • North Dakota this year will collect $58 million from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes and will spend just 16.1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.
  • The tobacco companies spend $32.3 million a year to market their products in North Dakota. This is 3 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

In North Dakota, 21.1 percent of high school students smoke, and 600 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 800 lives and costs the state $247 million 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 states this year will collect $25.1 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 2.3 percent of it -- $567.5 million -- on tobacco prevention programs.  It would take less than 15 percent of their tobacco revenue to fund tobacco prevention programs in every state at CDC-recommended levels.
  • In the past year, states have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by more than 15 percent, or $103.4 million.
  • Only one state -- North Dakota -- currently funds a tobacco prevention program at the CDC-recommended level.
  • Only nine other states fund prevention programs at even half the CDC-recommended amount, while 31 states and DC are providing less than a quarter of the recommended funding.

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.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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