Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tennessee Ranks 34th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 4:00 AM

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tennessee ranks 34th in the nation in funding programs to protect kids from tobacco, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

Tennessee currently spends $10 million a year on tobacco prevention programs, which is 31 percent of the minimum amount of $32.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last year, Tennessee ranked last in the nation, spending nothing on tobacco prevention.

The report's key findings for Tennessee include:

-- Tobacco companies spend more than $406 million a year on marketing in Tennessee. This is more than 40 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

-- Tennessee this year will collect $511.5 million from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 2 percent of it on tobacco prevention.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature approved a plan proposed by Governor Phil Bredesen to allocate $10 million for programs to keep kids from smoking and help smokers quit, a historic move for a state that has no history of spending money on tobacco prevention. Bredesen also proposed and the legislature approved a new smoke-free workplace law and a 42-cent increase in the state cigarette tax.

Said William V. Corr, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: "Despite this progress, Tennessee still spends less than a third of the CDC's recommended minimum for tobacco prevention. It's critical that Tennessee build on its progress because tobacco companies are spending huge sums to market their deadly and addictive products. Tobacco prevention is an important investment that protects kids, saves lives and saves money for taxpayers by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

Nine years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, the report finds that the states this year have increased total funding for tobacco prevention programs by 20 percent, to $717.2 million. But most states still fail to fund tobacco prevention programs at minimum levels recommended by the CDC, and altogether, the states are providing less than half what the CDC recommends.

Only three states -- Maine, Delaware and Colorado -- currently fund tobacco prevention programs at CDC minimum levels.

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