Indiana spent more money on anti-smoking programs this year than last. But it’s still a lot less than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.
This is according to a new report released by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids today.
For every state, the CDC recommends an annual amount it should spend to prevent smoking and help people quit. But many states spend nowhere near what the CDC says it should. The report ranks states according to the amount they’re investing in bringing down their smoking rate.
Indiana rose seven spots in the ranking this year, from 34th to 27th. But, it still spends only 10 percent of the $73 million the CDC recommends. John Schacter, spokesperson for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said Indiana, like most states, still gets a failing grade.
“Even though we don’t give letter grades two might get an A one might get a B and almost everybody else gets in F,” Schacter said.
Indiana pays $2.92 billion to treat smoking-related illnesses every year, according to research from the Polis Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, but only invests $7.5 million in tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The state’s adult smoking rate is 20.6, one of the highest in the country.
Last legislative session, Indiana proposed increasing the tax levied on a pack of cigarettes, as well as raising the minimum smoking age to 21. While neither passed, the discussion led lawmakers to appropriate more funds in the state budget towards efforts to stop smoking. That’s why Indiana moved up in the rankings from 34th to 27th, by increasing its spending from $5.9 million dollars to $7.5 million. But it’s too early to see if the changes affect the smoking rate.
Since 1998 many states settled lawsuits with major tobacco companies, and received hundreds of millions of dollars annually to combat smoking. Indiana’s annual settlement amount plus the revenue it receives from taxing tobacco products totals $568 million. Yet it spends a relatively small amount on efforts to fight tobacco use. That’s another reason why Schacter says Indiana gets a failing grade.
According to the report, while the vast majority of states cut funding for tobacco prevention programs since last year, California increased funding dramatically, rising to the top of the rankings. In November 2016 California voted to raise its tobacco tax and spend a portion of the revenue on programs that deter smoking. Now, California is spending $327.8 million, up from $75.7 million in 2017.
Schacter said legislative changes, like raising the tobacco tax, help ensure programs that target smoking rates last. “And we see that states that had a long standing program with sustained funding those are the rates where the youth smoking rates have come down the most,” he said. For instance, Florida only spends 35 percent of the amount recommended by the CDC. But, because it has a longstanding smoking prevention program called Tobacco Free Florida, it’s managed to decrease its youth smoking rate to 5.2 percent, one of the lowest youth smoking rates in the country.
This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a news collaborative covering public health.