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National Report: Alaska Ranks 1st in Protecting Kids from Tobacco


WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Alaska ranks first 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.

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Alaska currently spends $10.8 million a year in state funds on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which meets the funding level recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alaska is one of only two states, along with North Dakota, that meet the CDC's recommendation.  Other key findings for Alaska include:

    --  Alaska this year will collect $100 million in revenue from the 1998
        tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes and will spend 10.8 percent of it
        on tobacco prevention programs.
    --  The tobacco companies spend $19 million a year to market their products
        in Alaska. This is almost two times 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 13 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.

"We applaud Alaska for making a real and consistent commitment to fighting tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "By continuing to invest in tobacco prevention, Alaska will save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs."

While Alaska is a leader in funding tobacco prevention programs, health advocates say the state can make further progress by also passing a statewide smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, restaurants and bars.

In Alaska, 15.7 percent of high school students smoke, and 1,000 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 490 lives 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. Altogether, the states have cut funding for these programs to the lowest level since 1999, when they first started receiving tobacco settlement payments.  Key national findings of the report include:

    --  The states this year will collect $25.6 billion from the tobacco
        settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it -
        $456.7 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 have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 12 percent
        ($61.2 million) in the past year and by 36 percent ($260.5 million) in
        the past four years.
    --  Only two states - Alaska and North Dakota - currently fund tobacco
        prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.
The report warns that the nation's progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.  The United States has significantly reduced smoking among both youth and adults, but 19.3 percent of adults and 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.

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

SOURCE  Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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