Where Should Individual State Tobacco Settlements Go?

In the United States, tobacco companies have been required to pay settlements to 46 states to help off-set the cost tobacco-related medical-costs. Tobacco companies agreed to cease certain marketing practices and pay annual payments to states. The question is not if those funds should be paid, but where they should go.

In a report recently released, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that most states are not spending the recommended amount of settlement funds and tobacco taxes on programs and marketing to prevent tobacco use.

In Kentucky an estimated $389 million of the state’s income derived from these sources in 2011. The CDC recommends $57.2 million be allocated to fund anti-tobacco programs. Kentucky falls short of that amount, noting they are slated so spend a mere $2.2 million on preventative programs in 2012. That is a hair under 4 percent of the recommended figure.

Ellen Hahn, professor at the University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing and College of Public Health stated, “Kentucky has been chronically underfunded for tobacco control and we’ve been saying that for years. The sad part is we just plain have not allocated resources we need to be able to really create a sustained (anti-tobacco) campaign over time.”

So where should that money go? Should states be required to spent a certain amount on anti-tobacco programs or be allowed to allocate those funds as they see fit given the financial challenges currently plaguing the country?

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