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Tobacco Industry Marketing Blows Away What KY Spends on Smoking Prevention

A new report finds Kentucky is spending very little of its tobacco revenue on preventing smoking. (Greg Stotelmyer)
A new report finds Kentucky is spending very little of its tobacco revenue on preventing smoking. (Greg Stotelmyer)
December 20, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A new report said Kentucky will collect $361 million this fiscal year in tobacco revenue from taxes and the annual payout from the 1998 agreement between states and large tobacco companies. Yet, only a sliver of the money, just over four-percent, will go toward preventing tobacco use.

That's not enough according to Ellen Hahn, who heads the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy.

"Our tobacco program is woefully underfunded," she said. "It always has been. There's so much we don't do that we could do."

Hahn said it costs a lot of money to have a "strong, sustainable" prevention campaign, important in a state where one out of four adults smokes and annual health care costs directly caused by smoking are nearly two billion dollars. The CDC recommends Kentucky spend more than $56 million on prevention. According to the report, Kentucky will spend $2.4 million.

A coalition of health and advocacy groups produced the report, Broken Promises to Our Children. It placed Kentucky 37th among states for the amount of tobacco revenue spent on smoking prevention.

John Schachter, director of state communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said it's routine for state lawmakers across the nation to take money from the tobacco settlement fund and apply it to other purposes.

"Overall this year, the states will collect over $26 billion from the state Tobacco Settlement and tobacco taxes, but they're currently only spending $492 million, that's less than two percent, to fight tobacco use," he said.

The report estimates that in Kentucky alone, the tobacco industry spends $266 million a year on marketing, 113 times more than what the state spends preventing tobacco use.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY