States flunk mandate to protect kids from smoking dangers

January 1, 2007
Judith Asch-Goodkin

MS. ASCH-GOODKIN is a contributing editor for <italic>Contemporary Pediatrics</italic>.

According to a report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, most states have allocated only a tiny fraction of their share of the settlement reached with tobacco companies for programs designed to curtail youthful smoking. Nationwide, for fiscal year 2007 state governments have allocated only $597 million for prevention programs, a sum that represents 37% of the minimum funding level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and only 3% of the funds that will get from the settlement during that period. Only Delaware, Colorado, and Maine have allocated FY 2007 funds for smoking prevention at the minimum level the CDC recommends, while 28 states and the District of Columbia have allocated less than half the recommended amount. Missouri, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Tennessee have allocated no funds at all. M. Cass Wheeler, head of the American Heart Association, a co-sponsor of the report says, "States have been sorely negligent in failing to use money received in the multistate tobacco settlement on programs that could save lives and prevent youngsters from picking up the deadly habit." According to a statement from the American Medical Association (AMA), recent increases in youth smoking rates emphasize the need to fund programs that discourage youth smoking. The full report, titled "A Broken Promise to our Children," can be downloaded from the Campaign's Web site, http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/. As advocates for children, pediatricians may want to lobby their state legislators to increase funding levels for these vitally important programs.