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Near Bottom of Pack: MA Ranks 35th for Protecting Children from Tobacco

A new report says the tobacco industry is outspending the Commonwealth 38-to-1 when it comes to sending messages to young people about tobacco; and like this one, most are at convenience stores where products are right up front. (Mike Clifford)
A new report says the tobacco industry is outspending the Commonwealth 38-to-1 when it comes to sending messages to young people about tobacco; and like this one, most are at convenience stores where products are right up front. (Mike Clifford)
December 16, 2015

BOSTON - More than one in 10 children in the Commonwealth smoke, and a new report predicts that almost 4,000 young people in the state will become regular smokers this year.

The report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids ranked Massachusetts near the bottom of the pack at 35th in the nation for spending on protecting youth from tobacco.

"For Massachusetts tobacco prevention, the CDC recommends the state spend just about $67 million a year, and instead the state's only going to spend about $3.9 million," said John Schacheter, the campaign's director of state communications. "That is not even 6 percent of what the CDC recommends."

This year alone, according to the report, "Broken Promises to Our Children," Massachusetts will collect $880 million in revenue from the tobacco settlement and taxes, but will spend less than half a percent of the money on tobacco-prevention programs.

On the other side of the coin, Schachter said, the tobacco industry poured more than $140 million into the state last year to promote its products.

"That's a 38-to-1 ratio compared with what the state's spending, and that's where kids are going into these convenience stores and they're seeing the tobacco products right up front," he said. "That's where the industry is spending its money on - point of sale."

Schachter said he hopes state lawmakers will return their attention to a health issue, which remains the most preventable cause of death in the nation.

"Massachusetts has long been a leader on tobacco prevention and control, and for whatever reason legislators are not focused on that right now," he said. "We need to turn their attention to tobacco prevention, because it is one of the smartest things and best things a state can do. "

According to the report, tobacco claims more than 9,000 lives in the state and costs more than $4 billion each year.

The report is online at tfk.org/statereport.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA