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Illinois health care

Illinois Ranks 35th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

(Chicago, IL) – November 17, 2010. Illinois ranks 35th 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.

Illinois currently spends $9.5 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 6.1 percent of the $157 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other key findings for Illinois include:

  • Illinois this year will collect $848 million from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.
  • The tobacco companies spend $452.4 million a year to market their products in Illinois. This is 48 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 12 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In addition to its inadequate funding for tobacco prevention, Illinois’ cigarette tax is only 98 cents per pack, which is the 32nd lowest in the nation and well below the national average of $1.45 per pack. Increasing the cigarette tax is a proven way to reduce smoking, especially among kids.

“Illinois again is one of the most disappointing states and has failed to make the commitment needed to protect kids from tobacco,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

In Illinois, 18.1 percent of high school students smoke, and 19,600 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 16,600 lives and costs the state $4.1 billion in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. 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 $25.3 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just two percent of it – $517.9 million – on tobacco prevention programs.
  • States have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by nine percent ($51.4 million) in the past year and by 28 percent ($199.3 million) in the past three 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 20.6 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.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and Huffington Post blogger, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.


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David Ormsby, Editor

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