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Report: Utah Not Investing Enough in Anti-Tobacco Programs

PHOTO: A recent report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says efforts to prevent children in Utah from smoking, and helping current smokers quit, are severely underfunded. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
PHOTO: A recent report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says efforts to prevent children in Utah from smoking, and helping current smokers quit, are severely underfunded. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
December 29, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah will spend about $7 million of the $151 million it will get from the big tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes this fiscal year on efforts to prevent youth from smoking and helping others to quit, according to a recent report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

John Schachter, the group’s director of state communications, says the state's lack of investment will continue to cost lives and money.

"Thousands of students, thousands of teenagers, thousands of children in Utah are smoking, and they're going to become statistics in terms of health-care dollars spent by the state and lives being cost by the state," he points out.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Utah should be spending $19 million per year on smoking prevention programs.

Nationally, Schachter says this year the states will collect $25 billion from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but they will spend less than 2 percent of it on anti-tobacco programs.

He points to Florida, which has cut its high school smoking rate to 7.5 percent from 15 percent by adequately funding tobacco prevention through a voter-approved ballot initiative.

"We would actually save 2.3 million lives, over $120 billion in health care costs,” he stresses. “We would prevent seven million kids from becoming adult smokers if we can get every state to just achieve Florida's rate, let alone go beyond that."

Schachter says smoking kills an estimated 1,300 Utahns each year, and taxpayers spend more than $500 million on health care for sick smokers.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT