National Report: Washington State Ranks 45th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2103 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Washington state ranks 45th 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.


In recent years, Washington has virtually eliminated funding for its once nationally recognized tobacco prevention and cessation program.  This year, Washington is providing just $756,000, which is 1.1 percent of the $67.3 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Washington include:

  • Washington this year will collect $619.9 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Washington is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • Since 2009, Washington has cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 97 percent, from $27.2 million to $756,000.
  • The tobacco companies spend $88 million a year to market their products in Washington. This is 116 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 15 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.

Before slashing funding for its program, Washington was a national leader in the fight against tobacco with a high tobacco tax, a statewide smoke-free law and effective programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.  As a result, Washington reduced adult smoking by one-third and youth smoking by half.

Washington's tobacco prevention program has saved lives and saved money.  The state Department of Health estimated the program has helped prevent 13,000 premature deaths.  A recent study found that, over its first 10 years, the program saved $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every one dollar spent.  Over the 10-year period, the program prevented nearly 36,000 hospitalizations, saving $1.5 billion compared to $260 million spent.

"It is truly penny-wise and pound-foolish for Washington to shortchange tobacco prevention programs that are proven to save lives and save money," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "Unless Washington leaders restore funding for tobacco prevention, the state will pay a high price with more kids smoking, more lives lost to tobacco and higher health care costs.  Washington knows from its own experience that investing in tobacco prevention is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do."

In Washington, 9.5 percent of high school students smoke, and 4,800 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 7,600 lives and costs the state $1.95 billion in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings of the report include:

  • The states this year will collect $25 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.9 percent of it – $481.2 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 are falling woefully short of the CDC's recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states have budgeted just 13 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.
  • Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

There is more evidence than ever before that tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. Florida, which has a well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention program, reduced its high school smoking rate to just 8.6 percent in 2013, far below the national rate.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. Nationally, about 18 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students smoke.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

View Comments (0)