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Report: New Mexico Severely Underfunding Anti-Tobacco Programs

PHOTO: A recent report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says efforts to prevent children in New Mexico from smoking, and helping current smokers quit, are severely underfunded. Photo courtesy of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
PHOTO: A recent report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says efforts to prevent children in New Mexico from smoking, and helping current smokers quit, are severely underfunded. Photo courtesy of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
December 23, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - According to a recent report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, New Mexico will spend only $6 million of the $129 million it will receive this fiscal year from the 1998 Big Tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes on efforts to prevent kids from smoking, and helping smokers quit.

John Schachter, director of state communications at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says New Mexico's lack of investment will continue to cost lives and money.

"If New Mexico refuses to devote sufficient resources to tobacco prevention and tobacco cessation, it's going to continue to pay, in terms of lives and health-care dollars, that don't need to be spent," says Schachter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends New Mexico spend $23 million per year on smoking prevention programs. Nationally, Schachter says this year states will collect $25 billion from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend less than two 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, or over $120 billion in health care costs," says Schachter. "We would prevent seven million kids from becoming adult smokers if we could just get every state to achieve Florida's rate, let alone go beyond that."

Schachter says New Mexico's 14 percent high school smoking rate is line with the national average, and adds that tobacco use kills an estimated 2,600 New Mexicans every year.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM