CDC chides states on tobacco

ivECL_AuSt_6S. Carolina among those prodded on prevention
By Samanatha Ehlinger McClatchy Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has admonished South Carolina, Texas and Kentucky for failing to provide enough money from tobacco tax revenue or tobacco prevention efforts.
The three were among 13 states that spent less than 10 percent of the CDCrecommended level of funding for tobacco prevention, according to the federal health agency’s latest report on State Tobacco Control Program spending. The latest data, released Thursday, is from fiscal year 2011.
The CDC recommended in 2007 that states should invest a combined $3.7 billion annually on tobacco prevention efforts to help with education efforts and to combat tobacco-related illnesses. It said each state’s contribution should be based on population and tobacco habits.
But states contributed less than 3 percent of their revenue from tobacco taxes and court settlements involving tobacco. They spent a combined total of $658 million in 2011, while the tobacco industry spent $8.8 billion on advertising and promotions, according to the CDC.
Many states don’t have requirements about how tobacco-related revenue must be spent, and much of the income is used for “general purposes,” according to the report.
There also are no federal requirements that dictate how state cigarette tax money is spent, said Brian Sigritz, director of state fiscal studies at the National Association of State Budget Officers. While some have portions of the revenue set aside for anti-tobacco programs, others can spend it however they please, he said.
Even as cigarette smoking has declined, cigar and smokeless tobacco use has not changed, but use of new tobacco products is growing.
“If current rates continue, 5.6 million Americans younger than 18 years of age who are alive today are projected to die prematurely from smoking-related disease,” the report stated.
In 2011, South Carolina spent $4.04 million on tobacco prevention. The CDC recommended that it spend $62.2 million. South Carolina law dictates that part of the cigarette tax revenue goes toward tobacco prevention programs, according to the American Lung Association.