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Figure  . States decline in spending on tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

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This year's “Show Us the Money” report on states' allocation of tobacco settlement dollars reveals an 11 percent decline in spending on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. This report is the latest of ongoing updates released jointly by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and the SmokeLess States National Tobacco Policy Initiative.

Even though states collected more tobacco-generated revenue this past year than ever before (due to increased tobacco tax rates), in 2003, only four states—Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Mississippi—designated funding for tobacco control programs at or above levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This year, financially strapped states are increasingly using these funds for entirely unrelated programs.

“Gutting tobacco control programs is penny wise and pound foolish,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society. “Ultimately, states are going to have to pay the piper in lives lost and spending on health care. Smoking is responsible for nearly one-third of all cancer deaths and kills 440,000 people every year. In 2002, economic losses due to tobacco-related illnesses were $157 billion. If states fail to fund proven strategies to help people quit or keep them from starting to smoke, the human and economic cost will only get higher.”

“The evidence is clear that tobacco prevention and cessation programs are part of the solution to the fiscal crisis states are facing,” said William V. Corr, Executive Vice President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Those states that choose wisely to invest in tobacco prevention despite tight budgets will reap the benefits of fewer kids smoking, [more] lives saved, and taxpayer dollars saved by reducing smoking-caused health care costs.”

The longstanding tobacco prevention programs in California and Mississippi have been shown to save up to three dollars in health care costs for every dollar spent on prevention.