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National Report: Alaska Ranks 2nd in Protecting Kids from Tobacco


WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Alaska ranks 2nd 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.

Counting both state funding and a federal grant, Alaska has budgeted $11.2 million this year for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which meets the recommended funding level set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Alaska is one of only two states, along with North Dakota, that currently fund tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended levels.

Other key findings for Alaska include:

    --  Alaska this year will collect $102.1 million in revenue from the 1998

        tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes and will spend 10 percent of it on

        tobacco prevention programs.

    --  The tobacco companies spend $18.5 million a year to market their

        products in Alaska. This is twice what the state spends on tobacco


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.

Alaska has consistently ranked high in funding tobacco prevention programs.  As a result, Alaska recently reported that it has cut the state's high school smoking rate by 40 percent since 2007, to just 10.6 percent who still smoked this year.

"Alaska is setting an example for the nation with its strong and sustained commitment to fighting tobacco use, which is the number one cause of preventable death," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Alaska's efforts are paying off by preventing kids from smoking, saving lives and saving money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.  Tobacco prevention is a smart investment that Alaska should continue to make."

Despite Alaska's progress, tobacco annually claims 490 lives in Alaska and costs the state $169 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.

There is more evidence than ever before that tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. Florida, which has a well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention program, reduced its high school smoking rate to just 8.6 percent in 2013, far below the national rate.  One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Nationally, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs $96 billion in health care bills each year.  About 18 percent of U.S. adults and 18.1 percent of high school students smoke.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements.

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