States cut anti-smoking efforts despite tobacco money windfall

A sign at the entrance to Bryant Park notifies visitors of a smoking restriction in New York City.

A new report finds states are expected to collect record revenue this year from a 1998 settlement with the tobacco industry, taking in a total of almost $27 billion from the settlement and tobacco taxes. But only a tiny fraction of that money will be used to discourage people from smoking.

The study by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids finds states are spending less than two percent of the money on prevention -- only around $500 million a year.

Spokesman Vince Willmore says that doesn't come close to the $8 billion that the industry still puts into marketing:

"Tobacco companies spend more than $18 to encourage people to smoke for every $1 the states spend to keep kids from smoking and help smokers quit," says Willmore.

Most of the $27 billion in settlement money and tobacco taxes is going instead to plug budget holes, a move that Willmore calls  shortsighted. He says a recent study found every dollar spent on tobacco prevention saves states $5 in public health care expenses.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.
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I think this is a shortsighted move by the state. To cut down on the spending on discouraging people to smoke is a wrong move. There has already been evident signs of savings in general and savings for individuals on medical expenses. In the long run, spending on discouraging people to smoke will have positive effects. Some countries have taken their fight to curb smoking especially among the young ones very seriously. These countries have instituted anti-smoking laws and have made public places anti-smoking areas. Some organizations have even taken a 'green smoke' movement to discourage employees from smoking.

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