Our Kids Deserve Better

National Report: Kansas Ranks 41st in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

States Challenged to Join Florida in Reducing Youth Smoking to Record Low

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 11, 2014) – Kansas ranks 41st in the country in funding programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released 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 Kansas reduced its high school smoking rate from 10.2 percent to 7.5 percent, it would prevent 34,940 kids from becoming adult smokers, saving 12,170 lives and $611.5 million in future health care costs. Today in Kansas, tobacco annually claims 4,400 lives and costs the state $1.1 billion in health care bills.

2014_state_report_national_broken

Other key findings for Kansas include:

  • Kansas spends $946,671 million per year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 4 percent of the $27.9 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Kansas will collect $155.4 million in revenue this year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 6 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
  • Tobacco companies spend $70.7 million per year to market their products in Kansas – 75 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.

Health advocates in Kansas urge lawmakers to raise the state tobacco tax and use some of the revenue to increase funding for tobacco prevention programs. The state’s current cigarette tax is less than half the national average.

“Kansas is putting its children at risk 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 Kansas to take strong action by raising the tobacco tax and increasing funding for proven tobacco prevention programs.”

The full report and state-specific information can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org/statereport.

For more information on how you or your organization can be a part of the fight against tobacco and increase prevention funding in Kansas, email Tracy Russell, Tobacco Prevention Manager (Kansans for Healthy Futures) at tracy.russell@heart.org

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