WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Oklahoma ranks 7th nationwide in funding programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a report released today by leading public health organizations. Oklahoma is spending $19 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is still just 45 percent of the $42.3 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids logo. (PRNewsFoto/Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids)

The report challenges states to do more to fight tobacco use – the nation’s leading cause of preventable death – and make the next generation tobacco-free. In Oklahoma, 14.6 percent of high school students smoke, and 2,100 kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco use claims 7,500 Oklahoma lives and costs the state $1.6 billion in health care bills annually.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Oklahoma will collect $389.5 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 $162.6 million each year to market their deadly and addictive products in Oklahoma – more than 8.5 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.9 billion a year on marketing – that’s $1 million every hour.

The report – “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement 19 Years Later” – was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and Truth Initiative.

Oklahoma has made steady progress in the fight against tobacco, largely thanks to a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2000 that provides dedicated funding for tobacco prevention. The amendment requires that a portion of the state’s annual tobacco settlement payments go into a Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Fund, with the earnings used to finance tobacco prevention and other programs to improve health. Oklahoma’s tobacco prevention program has helped reduce the state’s high school smoking rate from 23.4 percent in 2007 to 14.6 percent in 2015.

But Oklahoma still has a high adult smoking rate at 19.6 percent. In addition to continuing to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs, health advocates are urging state legislators to approve a $1.50-per-pack increase in the state cigarette tax.

Oklahoma has made tremendous progress in reducing smoking and can accelerate its gains by significantly increasing the state cigarette tax and continuing to invest programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We can win the fight against tobacco and make the next generation tobacco-free, but Oklahoma needs to continue doing its part to help achieve these goals.”

The U.S. has reduced smoking to record lows – 15.1 percent among adults and 8 percent among high school students. But tobacco use still kills more than 480,000 Americans and costs the nation about $170 billion in health care bills each year.

Today’s report also highlights large disparities in who smokes and who suffers from tobacco-related diseases in the United States. Smoking rates are especially high in a swath of 12 states in the Midwest and South, including Oklahoma, an area called “Tobacco Nation” in a recent Truth Initiative report. Nationwide, smoking rates are highest among people who live below the poverty level and have less education, American Indians/Alaska Natives, LGBT Americans, those who are uninsured or on Medicaid, and those with mental illness. These differences are in large part due to the tobacco industry’s targeting of vulnerable populations through advertising, price discounting and other marketing strategies.

By funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the CDC’s recommended levels, states can reduce tobacco use among all Americans. But most states are falling far short:

  • The states will collect $27.5 billion this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend less than 3 percent of it ($721.6 million) on tobacco prevention programs.
  • The $721.6 million that the states have budgeted for tobacco prevention is a small fraction of the $3.3 billion the CDC recommends. Not a single state funds tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended levels, and only two states – California and Alaska – provide more than 90 percent of the recommended funding.
  • States with well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention programs have seen remarkable progress. Florida, with one of the longest-running programs, has reduced its high school smoking rate to 5.2 percent, one of the lowest rates ever reported by any state.

The report and state-specific information can be found at tfk.org/statereport.


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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids