A national ranking has been released that does not have Mississippi at the bottom, but the report finds the state should rank higher.
Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Mississippi ranks 16th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.
Mississippi currently spends $10.9 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 27.8 percent of the $39.2 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Mississippi include:
- Mississippi this year will collect $262.7 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4.1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Mississippi is spending less than 5 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
- The tobacco companies spend $121.4 million a year to market their products in Mississippi. This is 11 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.
The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 15 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.
From 1999 to 2006, Mississippi was a national leader in protecting kids from tobacco and was one of the few states that funded a tobacco prevention program at CDC-recommended levels. Despite the program’s success, then-Governor Haley Barbour in 2006 successfully sued to overturn a 2000 court order that set aside settlement money for the program. Mississippi has yet to fully restore funding for tobacco prevention.
“Mississippi has made a modest investment in programs to protect kids from tobacco, but falls far short of what the CDC recommends and needs to increase its commitment,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they shortchange tobacco prevention programs.”
In Mississippi, 17.9 percent of high school students smoke, and 2,700 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 4,700 lives and costs the state $719 million in health care bills.
Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings of the report include:
- The states this year will collect $25 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.9 percent of it – $481.2 million – on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
- States are falling woefully short of the CDC’s recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states have budgeted just 13 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.
- Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.