Virginia ranked low in funding antismoking programs

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A report released Thursday by a coalition of public health organizations ranked Virginia 31st in the nation in funding antismoking programs.

The report titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later” said Virginia this year will collect $336 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 2.5 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.

The report said Virginia currently spends $8.4 million annually on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, an amount that has held steady for the past two years. 

That amount, however, is down 42 percent from the $14.5 million spent in 2008, it said.

The report estimated that tobacco companies spend $296.9 million a year to market products in Virginia. About 15 percent of Virginia high school students smoke.

Nationally, the report finds that most states have failed to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

They are expected to collect $25.7 billion this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend less than 2 percent of that amount – $459.5 million – on tobacco prevention programs.

Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

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