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Report: California Not Spending Enough on Tobacco Prevention

A new report says states are using only 2 percent of the amount the CDC recommends to fight tobacco use. (Trostle/morguefile)
A new report says states are using only 2 percent of the amount the CDC recommends to fight tobacco use. (Trostle/morguefile)
December 14, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California gets billions each year from the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, and yet, it spends only 22 percent of what the Centers for Disease Control recommends on smoking prevention and cessation programs, for which the money was intended

A new report, Broken Promises to Our Children, is from a coalition of health advocacy groups. It said the Golden State is spending $75 million this year to prevent tobacco use, a $10 million increase over last year.

John Schachter, director of state communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said that's better than many other states.

"Overall this year, the states will collect over $26 billion from the state Tobacco Settlement and tobacco taxes, but they're currently only spending $492 million, that's less than two percent, to fight tobacco use," he explained.

He said state legislatures routinely raid their Tobacco Master Settlement money for other purposes.

California has the nation's longest-running tobacco cessation program. A 2013 study found that, over a nine-year period, the state spent $2.4 billion to fight tobacco use, and saved $134 billion in health-care costs.

Smoking-related illnesses are still the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S. Schachter said California is a long-time leader in trying to change that, and this past election, voters made history with Proposition 56.

"The voters in November voted for a $2 per pack increase in the tobacco tax, which is the largest single increase we've ever seen any state ever impose," he said. "It's probably the single most effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially among youth."

Prop 56 put funds toward tobacco prevention as well. California also recently raised the age for tobacco use to 21, decided to regulate e-cigarettes like tobacco, and strengthened its smoke-free workplace laws.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA