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National Report Ranks Oklahoma 11th in Protecting Kids From Tobacco

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 Press Release J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Oklahoma continues to strengthen its commitment to fighting tobacco use and now ranks 11th 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.

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

Oklahoma currently spends $21.1 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 47 percent of the $45 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year, Oklahoma ranked 13th, spending $19.1 million on tobacco prevention.

Oklahoma's funding of tobacco prevention has steadily increased because of a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2000 that places a portion of the state's annual tobacco settlement payments into a Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund, which generates interest that is used to fund tobacco prevention and other programs.  As the endowment grows, the amount of interest available to fund tobacco prevention and other programs also grows.

The adult smoking rate in Oklahoma dropped from 28.7 percent in 2001 to 24.7 percent in 2008. During the same time period, the proportion of former smokers in Oklahoma increased from 22.1 percent to 24.7 percent. This marks the first time Oklahoma has had an equal proportion of former and current smokers.

Also for the first time, all the critical elements of a comprehensive tobacco control program are in place in Oklahoma. A new Oklahoma State Plan for Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation calls for reducing tobacco use rates in Oklahoma to below the national rate of 20 percent by 2012. Achieving this goal would result in 200,000 fewer adult and youth tobacco users in the state.

"Thanks to the foresight of the voters, Oklahoma is doing better than ever in funding programs to protect kids from tobacco and help smokers quit," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "To win the battle against tobacco, it is critical that Oklahoma sustain its commitment.  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."

Other key findings for Oklahoma include:

  • Oklahoma this year will collect $393 million from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 5.4 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.  
  • The tobacco companies spend $213.1 million a year to market their products in Oklahoma. This is 10 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

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 Oklahoma, 23.2 percent of high school students smoke, and 4,700 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 6,200 lives and costs the state $1.2 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 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 $105.6 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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