Though it received $389 million in tobacco-settlement funds in fiscal year 2012, and ranks first or second in tobacco use, Kentucky spent just $2.2 million of that on prevention of tobacco use. The figures rank Kentucky 36th in the nation for helping its residents stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco.
The findings come from a report called "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 13 Years Later," which was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and other non-profit groups. The "promise" in the settlement among cigarette makers and state attorneys general was not specific, but strongly implied.
The report found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend Kentucky spend $57.2 million each year to establish a comprehensive tobacco prevention program. But while Kentucky does not come close to that figure, most states don't either and have cut tobacco prevention spending even more in 2012 in the face of budget deficits, The Associated Press reports.
"There are no easy cuts anymore. There's the old expression, tried and true, it's not fat anymore, we're talking about bone," said Debra Miller, director of health policy for the Council of State Governments. "All revenue is looked at as revenue for the highest priority programs ... They aren't ignoring the whole idea of tobacco cessation and the public health issues, the budgets are just such a problem right now."
States have cut their funding 12 percent this year, putting it at its lowest level since 1999, AP reports.
Kentucky is one of 33 states that is spending less than a quarter of the amount recommended by the CDC. Only Alaska is meeting or exceeding the recommendation. Connecticut, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and the District of Columbia did not put any funds into tobacco prevention in 2012. Kentucky cut its tobacco prevention spending by $400,000 from fiscal year 2011. In the past four years, states have cut funding by 36 percent.
About 46 million Americans smoke, while more than 3 percent of American adults use smokeless tobacco, according to the CDC. A recent poll found Kentucky has the highest smoking rate in the country, with 29 percent of people surveyed in a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index poll answering "yes" to the question. To find county-specific smoking rates, click here. (Read more)