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Report: Indiana Ranks 35th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Indiana ranks 35th in the country in funding programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

The report challenges states to do more by shining the spotlight on Florida, which has cut its high school smoking rate to a record low 7.5 percent. The report details the lives and health care dollars each state could save if it brought its teen smoking rate down to Florida’s.

If Indiana reduced its high school smoking rate from 13.7 percent to 7.5 percent, it would prevent 148,890 kids from becoming adult smokers, saving 52,490 lives and $2.6 billion in future health care costs. Today in Indiana, tobacco annually claims 11,100 lives and costs the state $2.9 billion in health care bills.

Other key findings for Indiana include:

•       Indiana spends $5.8 million per year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 7.8 percent of the $73.5 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

•       Indiana will collect $565.1 million in revenue this year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 1 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.

•       Tobacco companies spend $271.7 million per year to market their products in Indiana – 47 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

Today’s report, titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 16 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.

The report assesses whether the states kept their promise to use a significant portion of their settlement funds – estimated to total $246 billion over the first 25 years – to fight tobacco use. The states also collect billions of dollars more each year from tobacco taxes.

Funding for Indiana’s once-successful tobacco prevention program has been cut multiple times in recent years; the state now spends less than 8 percent of what the CDC recommends for tobacco prevention. The earlier program helped reduce smoking among high school students by 36 percent since 2001, to 18.1 percent in 2011.

In addition, Indiana’s cigarette tax of 99.5 cents per pack ranks 32nd in the nation and is below the national average of $1.53 per pack. And the state lacks a very comprehensive smoke-free bill to protect residents and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

“Indiana is literally sacrificing the health of its children and costing taxpayers money by refusing to properly fund tobacco prevention efforts and ignoring the mountain of evidence that these programs save lives and health care dollars,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Florida’s remarkable progress shows it is within our reach to create a tobacco-free generation. But we need elected leaders in Indiana to wake up and increase funding for proven tobacco prevention programs.”

Nationally, the report finds that:

•       Most states fail to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The states will collect $25.6 billion this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 1.9 percent of it ($490.4 million) on tobacco prevention programs.

•       States are falling woefully short of the CDC’s recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states budgeted just 14.8 percent of the $3.3 billion the CDC recommends. Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – are funding tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended levels.

Evidence shows tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, the state of Washington saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 people and costing the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and lost productivity each year.