Utah ranks 13th in the country in funding programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.
Key findings for Utah include:
Utah spends $7.4 million per year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 38.2 percent of the $19.3 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Utah will collect $150.7 million in revenue this year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 4.9 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
Tobacco companies spend $37.0 million per year to market their products in Utah – five times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
In Utah, tobacco annually claims 1,300 lives and costs the state $542 million/billion in health care bills. Utah has the lowest smoking high school smoking rate of any state at 4.4 percent.
The report, titled "Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 16 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.
Utah has implemented several effective measures to reduce tobacco use, including a strong, statewide smoke-free workplace law and a $1 cigarette tax increase in 2010. However, the state is falling short in funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
"Utah has made steady progress in reducing tobacco use, and a tobacco-free generation is within reach in the state. To get there, Utah needs to invest more in proven programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Nationally, the report finds that:
Most states fail to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The states will collect $25.6 billion this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 1.9 percent of it ($490.4 million) on tobacco prevention programs.
States are falling woefully short of the CDC's recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states budgeted just 14.8 percent of the $3.3 billion the CDC recommends. Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – are funding tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended levels.
Evidence shows tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, the state of Washington saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.
Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 people and costing the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and lost productivity each year.