Ohio ranks 30th among the states when it comes to money budgeted for programs aimed at preventing tobacco use and helping users quit, according to a new report from several advocacy groups.
It shows that for fiscal year 2018, the state has budgeted $12.5 million for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
That’s just 9.5 percent of the $132 million recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also nearly 33 times less than the $407 million that the tobacco industry spends on marketing in Ohio.
The report was released last week by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and the Truth Initiative.
“Ohio has some of the highest youth and adult smoking rates in the country, so it’s particularly important that states like Ohio invest more in programs that are proven to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit,” said Vince Willmore, a spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
In Ohio, 22.5 percent of adults smoke, compared with 15.1 percent nationally, Willmore said. The smoking rate among high school students is 15.1 percent, compared with a 10.8 percent national rate.
Smoking kills 20,000 Ohioans each year and is responsible for 30.1 percent of the state’s cancer deaths, the report says. And Ohio’s annual health-care costs attributable to smoking amount to $5.64 billion, with each household in the state facing a $1,077 tax burden due to government expenditures related to the habit.
“This is an addiction epidemic that is overlooked,” said Jeff Stephens, the Ohio government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
“As this reports so clearly identifies, the tobacco industry just continues to be masterful in resourcing its quest towards securing new customers into that lifetime of addiction.”
The Ohio Department of Health is focused on using tobacco funds to work toward sustainable change through policy, spokeswoman Melanie Amato said.
Money goes to prevention programs, local prevention grants, mass-media promotions, a quit line, funding for local cessation work, and surveillance and evaluation, she said. A portion of funds also goes to infrastructure, administration and management.
“We feel that here in Ohio we are doing well with the resources we have available,” Amato said.
In recent years, the state has placed more emphasis on youth prevention efforts, with a focus on decreasing accessibility and availability as well as determining the impact of in-store marketing. There also has been a large increase in compliance with laws regarding the sales of tobacco to minors, she said.
The report’s title — “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 Tobacco Settlement 19 Years Later” — refers to a 1998 settlement of lawsuits that states had filed against major tobacco companies regarding the advertising, marketing and promotion of tobacco products.
In fiscal year 2018, states will collect a total of $27.5 billion from the settlement and tobacco taxes, according to the report. However, they will spend less than 3 percent — $721.6 million — on prevention and cessation programs.
In a statement, tobacco giant Altria, the parent company of Phillip Morris, said it’s “committed to marketing tobacco products responsibly to adult tobacco consumers while taking steps designed to avoid reaching unintended audiences.
“Since 1997, Phillip Morris USA has provided over $78 billion to the states as part of the Tobacco Settlement Agreements and for years has encouraged states to use these payments to fund tobacco cessation and underage tobacco use prevention programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control,” the statement says.
Before 2008, Ohio was one of the better states when it came to tobacco-prevention funding, Willmore said. Before then, state allocations for prevention efforts exceeded $44 million. For fiscal year 2008, funds were diverted to other programs, resulting in no state money being spent on tobacco prevention for a few years.
Stephens said numbers have increased under Gov. John Kasich’s administration.
“But it’s still not at a level that we’d like to see because, obviously, the numbers and the toll continue to get worse,” he said.