Twelve years after the tobacco industry agreed to a multi-billion-dollar settlement
with the attorneys general of 46 states, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is out with a new report
examining how -- if at all -- those funds are being used to prevent youth from smoking.
The study isn't kind to the Show-Me State, a.k.a. the "Buckle of the Ciggie Belt."
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids found that only three states devote fewer resources
to smoking prevention than Missouri. Those states -- Nevada, Ohio, and New Hampshire -- allocate no money to smoking cessation. Missouri allocates a paltry $60,000, which is 0.1 percent of the $73.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Other disturbing figures, according to the report:
- Missouri this year will collect $245 million from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend almost none of it on tobacco prevention programs
- Meanwhile, tobacco companies spend $419.9 million a year to market their products in Missouri -- or 6,998 times more than what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
Even worse, according to the author's of the report, is Missouri's tax rate on cigarettes (now the lowest in the country
at 17 cents per pack compared to the national average of $1.45) that makes cigarettes affordable to children.
"Missouri is one of the disappointing
states when it comes to fighting tobacco use, and it is letting down the
state's kids and taxpayers as a result," says Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "To step up the fight, Missouri
should raise the tobacco tax and use some of the revenue to increase
funding for tobacco prevention programs. Even in these difficult budget
times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and
saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."
Nearly 19 percent of high-school students smoke in Missouri, according the campaign.