Only 11 states do worse than Kansas at prevention efforts aimed at keeping young people from smoking and helping smokers to quit, according to a report released today by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The report estimated that Kansas would take in about $161 million in tobacco-generated revenue in fiscal 2013, but likely would spend no more than $1 million on prevention efforts — or .62 percent, which ranks 39th in the U.S.
However, Kansas may not even spend the $1 million on prevention that it has in recent years, if the Legislature follows the recommendation of the Children's Cabinet issued Monday.
Broken Promises to Our Children
The report confirms that Kansas' prevention efforts are already "grossly insufficient," said Linda DeCoursey, executive director of the Tobacco-Free Kansas Coalition.
"The news gets even worse if $1 million shocks one," DeCoursey said, calling the Children's Cabinet recommendation "alarming."
DeCoursey said that currently 3,100 Kansans under age 18 become new daily smokers each year.
"It's even more alarming how quickly progress (on prevention) can be slowed or reversed with no funding," she said.
If the Legislature adopts the Children's Cabinet recommendation, Kansas would join just four other states listed in the report that spend no money on prevention programs.
"That would put us in pretty small company," said Chris Masoner, Kansas' government relations director for the American Cancer Society. "We would be extraordinarily disappointed."
Tobacco-generated revenue includes taxes on tobacco products and receipts from the 1998 master settlement agreement with tobacco companies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Kansas spend $32 million a year on prevention and cessation efforts — or about 20 percent of its tobacco-generated revenue.
The CDC recommendation and the report released today do not factor in federal grants. Kansas currently receives $1.9 million for tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs.
'Penny-wise and pound-foolish'
Only two states — Alaska and North Dakota — fund tobacco prevention programs at about the level recommended by the CDC, according to the report. Another 11 states provide a third or more of the CDC-recommended funding.
Nationwide, the report estimated that states would take in $25.7 billion in tobacco-generated revenue and spend less than $460 million, or 1.8 percent, on prevention programs.
The report's authors said states were missing an opportunity to reduce health care costs by spending marginally more on prevention.
In Kansas, more than $900 million was spent in 2011 on tobacco-related healthcare bills, and 3,000 died from tobacco use, according to the Tobacco-Free Kansas Coalition.
The report's authors said states that failed to spend adequately for prevention were shortsighted:
"Given such a strong return on investment, states are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish in shortchanging tobacco prevention and cessation programs," they wrote. "Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is one of the smartest and most fiscally responsible investments that states can make."
The report cited a study published in December 2011 in the American Journal of Public Health that found — between 2000 and 2009 — Washington state saved more than $5 in health care costs for every $1 spent on its tobacco prevention and cessation program by reducing hospitalizations for heart disease, strokes, respiratory diseases and cancer caused by tobacco use.
Smoking costs the U.S. economy nearly $200 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity, and is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, killing 443,000 people annually, according to the CDC.
Master settlement agreement
The estimated tobacco-generated income for Kansas in fiscal 2013 cited in the report included a projected:
• $101.2 million in tobacco taxes, and
• $59.8 million from the 1998 master settlement agreement with tobacco companies.
In Kansas, most of the tobacco companies’ payments — $761 million to Kansas since 1999 — are used to finance early childhood development services and programs.
Payments for fiscal 2014 and beyond could be reduced depending on the outcome of federal arbitration.
Last month a Kansas panel charged with estimating fiscal 2014 settlement revenues for the state decided against putting together a prediction for next year because of uncertainties stemming from the arbitration.
However, the arbitration did not factor in to the report's estimates because tobacco payments are made in April, and the arbitration panel is not expected to rule until June, said Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
"But Kansas could easily fund tobacco prevention with a third of its tax dollars, without even touching the settlement dollars," said McGoldrick.
At 79 cents per pack, Kansas' cigarette tax is among the lowest in the U.S. The national average is $1.46 per pack.
If the cigarette tax were raised by $1, it would add nearly $70 million to annual state revenue while reducing smoking and the financial impact on the health system caused by sick smokers, according to an estimate by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute. It is supported in part by a variety of underwriters. The News Service is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy-making environment. All News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution, including a link back to KHI.org when a story is reposted online. An automatically updated feed of headlines and more from KHI can be included on your website using the KHI widget. More about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 233-5443.